Drug Use up 20 Percent in UK Prisons over Just One Year

UK prison
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There has been a 23 percent surge in drugs found in UK prisons in just one year, with the number of prisoners testing positive hitting a 12-year high.

The shock revelations, from an official Ministry of Justice report, come amid a violent crime wave sweeping the nation, particularly in London.

There was also an increase in finds of other banned items, with the number of mobile phones found up 15 percent and the number of SIM cards seized rising by 13 percent between the year ending March 2017 and the year ending March 2018.

And the number of prisoners testing positive in random mandatory drug tests shot up by 10.6 percent in the same period, even with new psychoactive substances ignored.

This is the highest level since the year ending March 2006. Including the new psychoactive substances – sometimes called ‘legal highs’ – the increase was a massive 20.4 percent.

The relatively new psychoactive substance Spice, nicknamed “the zombie drug”, was found in 60 percent of those positive cases.

“While cannabis, opiates, and buprenorphine remain highly prevalent drug types in prison, Psychoactive Substances overtakes them by a large margin,” the report says.

It concedes there has been a “steady rise in the three most recent financial years” in the number of prisoners caught on drugs.

As the data was released, Justice Secretary David Gauke announced a £9 million pilot at HMP Holme House to try and tackle drugs in prison, promising new body scanners and extra sniffer dogs.

He said: “Drugs fuel a cycle of violence and self-harm and prevent offenders from starting the process of rehabilitation that can ultimately lead to employment and a life free from crime.”

Adding: “We do not underestimate the scale of the task, but our aim is to make prisons places of safety, security and decency where offenders have a genuine chance to turn their lives around.”

Minister for Mental Health and Inequalities Jackie Doyle-Price commented: “Too often offenders are stuck in a cycle of offending, fuelled by drug addiction.

“The only way this will change is by improving the health of our offender population, supporting them to stop using drugs, both in and out of prison.”


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