HC Deb 19 November 1998 vol 319 c870W
Sir Robert Smith

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what estimate he has made of the percentage of prisoners who have(a) drug and (b) mental health problems; and if he will make a statement. [60448]

Mr. McLeish

This information is not readily available. However, in the year 1 April 1997 to 31 March 1998, from 7,070 samples tested under the mandatory drug testing programme, 29 per cent. of prisoners tested positive.

The rate of psychological disturbance in the prison population is not clear but research suggests that, excluding drug dependence, alcohol dependence and personality disorder, it is estimated to be twice as high as in the general population.

The following is a summary of information contained in the Third Prison Survey, relating to drug and mental health problems, which was published earlier this year:

  1. (a) 44 per cent. of prisoners reported that they had used drugs in prison at some point during the past 6 months and 5 per cent. reported injecting drugs during the same period: and
  2. (b) 32 per cent. of prisoners reported feelings of depression "fairly often" or "very often" and 9 per cent. reported experience of suicidal thoughts with similar frequency in the past 6 months.