Women `leave jail as addicts'

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The Independent Online
Women are going into a Cheshire prison as shoplifters and leaving as drug addicts, a report by the Chief Inspector of Prisons is expected to conclude next week, writes Heather Mills.

According to Radio 4's Today programme, Judge Stephen Tumim criticises lack of treatment for addicts at Styal women's prison and says 60 per cent of those injecting drugs there are sharing needles. Scientists have found an estimated 20 inmates in a Scottish jail contracted the Aids virus by sharing needles.

Drugs are rife throughout the prison system. In some jails they have superseded tobacco as the black market currency. Their use has led to violence and bullying, according to Judge Tumim.

And pressure groups say the Home Office's plan to impose random drug testing could lead to trouble, being seen, with loss of privileges and cuts in home leave, as part of the drive to make prisons more "austere".

Yesterday, Derek Lewis, director general of the Prison Service, defended testing, which is being introduced "cautiously" in eight jails as part of a programme including treatment and support, more use of sniffer dogs and stricter searching to stop drugs getting in.