HL Deb 22 July 1996 vol 574 cc98-100WA
Lord Avebury

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they consider that the level of drug misuse in prison can be reduced by prison managers looking to obtain free services from health authorities and charitable trusts, and by transferring money from other budget headings where they have to purchase services, as suggested in HM Prison Service's paper Drug Misuse in Prison; whether mandatory drug testing has been and is being introduced at the expense of other programmes, and what information they have about prisoners turning to hard drugs because they disappear from the bloodstream more rapidly than soft drugs.

Baroness Blatch

Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Lord Avebury from the Director General of the Prison Service, Mr. Richard Tilt, dated 22 July 1996:

Lady Blatch has asked me to reply to your recent Question about drugs misuse in prisons.

All Prison Service establishments have local strategies for combating drugs which focus on reducing supply, reducing demand and reducing the potential for damage to the health of prisoners, staff and the wider community. A multi agency approach is encouraged, and this may include use of the services of health authorities and charitable trusts, whether free or not. The Government have also provided £5.1 million in additional funds for new treatment schemes in 1996–97. Furthermore, the Prison Service is considering with the Department of Health the resources required to ensure that drug misusers in prison have access to cost effective and appropriate services during remand, sentence and, if appropriate, on release.

Prison governors have not been asked to support the cost of mandatory drug testing from existing budgets and £4.2 million in additional funds was made available to cover the staffing costs of mandatory drug testing (MDT) in the current year. Laboratory and courier costs have been met from central funds.

The attached table of statistics shows the percentage of random MDT samples testing positive for each drug and reveals no clear trend from Class B and C drugs to Class A drugs.

Percentage of random samples tested confirmed positive for each drug type: All establishments, September 1995 to May 1996
September October November December January February March April May Average
LSD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Cocaine 0.96 0.84 0.64 0.59 0.25 0.19 0.11 0.16 0.28 0.25
Opiates 7.68 10.18 8.05 7.77 9.55 0.69 5.94 6.08 7.05 6.56
Methadone 0 0.56 0 0.35 0.31 0.15 0.16 0.18 0.24 0.19
Barbiturates 0 0 0 0 0 0.05 0.02 0.04 0.04 0.03
Cannabis 28.21 34.73 32.54 31.68 32.16 27.70 26.01 20.91 19.78 23.84
Amphetamines 0 0 0.08 0.06 0.08 0.18 0.31 0.27 0.32 0.20
Benzodiazepines 3.26 4.46 2.95 2.65 2.46 2.48 1.30 1.76 2.42 2.06