HC Deb 26 November 2002 vol 395 c252W
Angela Watkinson

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will make a statement on progress in the initiative to ban visitors found smuggling drugs into prisons; and how many visitors were banned during the last six months; [82146]

(2) what assessment he has made of the effect of introducing CCTV in visits areas on the amounts of drugs smuggled into prisons; [82145]

(3) what assessment he has made of the effect on drug availability in prisons of passive and active drug dogs; [82144]

(4) what assessment he has made of the effect of the low furniture initiative in prison visits areas on the amount of drugs being smuggled into prisons. [82181]

Hilary Benn

The Prison Service is taking a number of steps to stifle the availability of drugs in prisons. These measures, which include mandatory drug testing, operate alongside a comprehensive treatment framework and the provision of voluntary drug testing. The overall impact on drug use is demonstrated by the reduction in the positive rate of random mandatory drug tests from 24.4 per cent. (1996–97) to 11.3 per cent, (year to date). The complementary nature of some supply reduction measures, e.g. drug detection dogs, Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) and low furniture in visits areas, and the complex nature of drug supply make it difficult to determine the impact of any single factor in reducing the availability or use of drugs.

Prisons continue to use the visit bans initiative to take firm action against visitors suspected of smuggling drugs. In 2001–02 (the latest period for which figures are available) a total of 2,815 visitors received a ban.

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