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Prisoners to face random drugs tests

GOVERNMENT proposals to allow compulsory drugs testing in prisons were last night severely criticised by prison officers.

Amendments tabled yesterday to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill would allow prison officers to demand a urine sample from inmates for drugs testing. Refusal to do so would be punished.

Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers, said compulsory testing was likely to increase conflict between inmates and staff.

But Derek Lewis, director- general of the Prison Service, said the random testing measures would enable prisons to deal more effectively with drug taking. He said that the extra powers - in use in some US jails - were needed to tackle the 'significant drug problem in some prisons'.