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Drug finds in prison increased by 23% in one year, Ministry of Justice reveals

12:58 pm, 26th July 2018

There was also a 15% rise in finds of mobile phones and a 13% rise in SIM cards.

The figures for the year between March 2017 and March 2018 also reveal that 20.4% of random drug tests came back as positive.

The psychoactive substance Spice, nicknamed “the zombie drug”, was found in 60% of those positive cases.

Sky News home affairs correspondent Mark White described the report as “pretty depressing reading”.

He said: “10.6% of prisoners who are tested are testing positive for drugs.

“But actually when you take the new psychoactive substances like Spice into account, that’s more than 20%.

“One in five prisoners are testing positive for drugs.”

He added that the figures have come from a random drugs testing policy, so the exact number could be higher.

The figures have emerged as the government launches a £9m pilot scheme aimed at tackling the drugs epidemic in prisons.

HMP Holme House in County Durham is spearheading the initiative by becoming the country’s first drug recovery prison, with a twin focus on preventing banned substances entering the jail and helping prisoners wanting to kick the habit.

Dion Lee, who has been an inmate for six years, has witnessed the drug problem spiral out of control at the North East prison.

Spice, a former legal high made from shredded plants and manmade chemicals, has become a popular substance among prisoners in England and Wales.

Lee explains: “People smuggle drugs all around the world, so smuggling it into a prison is no different.

“Spice is like crack, or heroin. But because it’s so cheap it’s everywhere, it’s more freely available to people.

“It’s a gateway drug into other drugs. You smoke it for a week or two and that’s it, you’re then looking for methadone, heroin, it’s crack, it’s whatever you can get hold of.”