Prisons: Drugs

Justice written question – answered on 11th September 2013.

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Photo of Grahame Morris Grahame Morris Labour, Easington

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many (a) passive and (b) active drug dogs there were at each prison establishment in England and Wales in each of the last four years; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Jeremy Wright Jeremy Wright The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

Drug misuse in prisons, as measured by Mandatory Drug Testing (MDT), has continued on a downward trend. In 2011-12, 1% of prisoners tested positive for drug misuse, compared to 24.4% in 1996-97.

The total number of passive and active drug detection dogs in prison establishments in England and Wales in each of the last four years is given in the following table.

  Number of passive drug dogs Number of active drug dogs
2010 225 226
2011 201 203
2012 171 173
2013 159 158

Data has not been provided on an individual prison basis for security reasons. Placing such information on the public record would expose to those who may wish to smuggle drugs into prisons the extent of each prison's specific drug dog capability.

Prisons deploy a range of robust security measures to reduce drug supply—including passive and active search dogs, 'closed' visits (ie through a glass screen) or visit bans, CCTV surveillance in most social visits areas and low-level furniture in social visits areas in all category C prisons and above, to make it more difficult to pass drugs; deployment of technology to detect and disrupt mobile phones, and analysis of recovered handsets and SIM cards; and a comprehensive programme of mandatory drug testing for prisoners with disciplinary sanctions for those testing positive. Criminal proceedings are invoked against visitors and prisoners alike wherever sufficient evidence exists of an attempt to supply.

The reduction in numbers of dogs across the prison estate is largely due to efficiency savings and also the formation of area based specialist search teams to make resources more flexible. Area based search teams provide a level of dog searching depending on risk and level of threat by way of a service level agreement.

All figures have been drawn from live administrative data systems which may be amended at any time. Although care is taken when processing and analysing the returns, the detail collected is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system.

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