HC Deb 25 April 1995 vol 258 cc437-8W
Mr. Merchant

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the progress of the Prison Service drugs strategy. [21217]

Mr. Michael Forsyth

I have today arranged for copies of the Prison Service drugs strategy to be placed in the Library.

The Prison Service drugs strategy has been developed as part of the Government's strategy against the misuse of drugs, as set out in the Green Paper "Tackling Drugs Together'. The presence of drugs in prisons is unacceptable and leads to bullying, violence and intimidation, while undermining regimes. Dealing with this problem is, therefore, being given high priority by the service.

Local drugs strategies will be developed which will have the objective of: reducing the supply of drugs reducing the demand for drugs rehabilitating drug misusers, and reducing the potential for damage to the health of prisoners, staff and the wider community, arising from the misuse of drugs.

Mandatory drugs testing is an important part of the strategy. The first phase of implementation has already started in eight establishments—Lindholme, Wakefield, Feltham, Stoke Heath, Pentonville, Bristol, Holloway and Wayland. This phase will be carefully monitored and evaluated and the results will provide the basis for testing throughout the Prison Service. Prisoners who test positive will be liable to the usual range of disciplinary action on adjudication including additional days, loss of privileges and fines. Other measures to be taken will include imposition of closed visits and removal of home leave. Prisoners who test positive will be offered treatment for their drug misuse problem.

A wide range of other measures is being taken to prevent drugs entering prisons. These include the increased use of drug dogs; more effective searching of prisoners, staff and visitors; the use of closed circuit television cameras during visits; and the imposition of closed visits for prisoners found guilty of drug offences in prison.

The Prison Service is also committed to providing help to prisoners who misuse, have misused or are at risk of misusing drugs. A senior manager will be responsible for the through-care of drug misusers in each establishment, and will co-ordinate procedures for the identification, support and treatment of drug misusers whilst in custody. Preventive education programmes will be made available to all prisoners with the objective of informing prisoners about the dangers of drug misuse, instructing them in ways of minimising health risks, providing information about local treatment and support initiatives and who to contact if they require further help. A health care standard on the clinical management of drug misusers was issued to all establishments on 12 April 1995.

This year, the Prison Service will be expanding substantially the number and types of drug treatment programmes. These programmes include therapeutic communities; three-month treatment programmes; intensive counselling and education services; detoxification units; and community linked through-care programmes. Careful monitoring and evaluation of these programmes will help to determine the development of drug treatment in other establishments.

The Prison Service is also committed to improving its working relationship with community drug agencies to ensure continuity of care for prisoners with drug misuse problems upon release from prisons.