Prisons: Drugs

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 2nd March 2017.

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Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Labour, Delyn

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what the volume of drugs by type found in prisons was in each of the last seven years; and what proportion of that volume by type was brought into prison by (a) prisoners, (b) visitors, (c) drones or other external means and (d) staff.

Photo of Sam Gyimah Sam Gyimah The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

We are committed to improving safety across the prison estate and take a zero tolerance approach to drugs in prisons.

As the data shows we have found a significant amount of drugs in 2016. This demonstrates the effective work by our prison staff to disrupt the supply of drugs in our prisons.

We have taken a number of actions to make sure that we can do so. We have: implemented an innovative new drug testing programme, the first in the world to routinely test for psychoactive substances; trained over 300 drug detection dogs to specifically detect psychoactive substances; made it a criminal offence to possess any psychoactive substance in a custodial institution; and proposed legislative change, in the Prison & Courts Bill, to make it easier for prisons to test prisoners for emerging dangerous psychoactive substances.

We have also taken swift action to stop the supply of drugs into our prisons, equipping all prisons with portable and fixed detectors to tackle illicit use of phones in prisons. We are working with the police to catch and convict criminal using drones to smuggle contraband into prisons, and testing physical and technological countermeasures to stop incursions.

The information requested is only available from October 2015 onwards and is in the following table. An enhanced incident reporting standard was implemented in October 2015 that allowed the recording for weight of drugs found in an incident. As more than one type of drug can be found in an incident, it is not possible to breakdown the weight for each type of drug found. Prior to October 2015, the system did not ask for the weight of drugs found to be recorded.

Finds have increased between 2015 and 2016, this is likely due to better and more successful searching following these changes, as well as an increase in the number of incidents of people attempting to bring drugs into prisons.

Incidents of drugs found in prisons by weight, England and Wales, October 2015 to December 2016

Weight of drugs

Number of incidents

20151

2016

979

3,577

2g to 5g

486

1,956

6g to 10g

164

570

11g to 20g

93

354

21g to 30g

72

265

31g to 40g

41

119

41g to 50g

22

127

51g to 100g

93

348

101g to 200g

60

256

201g to 300g

11

90

301g to 400g

10

48

401g to 500g

13

45

501g to 1,000g

8

50

More than 1kg

3

26

Unknown

533

2,643

Total

2,588

10,474

20151

2016

Estimated weight of drugs (kg)2

46.9

225.0

(1) Data for 2015 covers October to December only

(2) Estimated weight is calculated by summing the product of number incidents by the mid-weight of each weight category except for "less than 1g" and "More than 1kg", where it uses 1g and 1kg respectively. Drug finds with unknown weight are not included in the estimate.

Data Sources and Quality

These figures have been drawn from the NOMS Incident Reporting System. Care is taken when processing and analysing the returns but the detail collected is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system. Although the figures are shown to the last case the figures may not be accurate to that level.

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