FIFTH REPORT (HC 363): DRUGS AND PRISONS
Published 22 November 1999. Government
response (published as HC 271, 1999-2000) received 12 January
3. We stand by the Committee's conclusion
in its report of last session on alternatives to Prison Sentences
that: "The rapidly escalating prison population makes it
of paramount importance to investigate credible alternatives to
custody and to use them wherever appropriate. Prison will always
be necessary for the most dangerous and/or persistent criminals
but it must be closely targeted on them, with other offenders
being given non-custodial sentences which are effective and in
which sentencers and the public have confidence" . . . But
the qualification that the non-custodial options open to the courts
must command confidence is most important (paragraphs 16 and
Although prisons must remain for serious, dangerous
and persistent offenders, the Government has increased the range
of non-custodial penalties for minor offenders: curfew orders,
drug treatment and testing orders, home detention curfew and electronic
Non-custodial penalties must command the confidence
of the public. New national standards for the supervision of offenders
in the community were introduced on 1 April. The Government is
also making a major investment through the Crime Reduction Programme
in identifying programmes in prison and the community which do
work in combating offending behaviour.
4. We welcome the growth of arrest referral
schemes . . . we consider that there should be systematic monitoring
to ensure that different schemes in different parts of the country
operate reasonably consistently and to minimum standards (paragraph
Government is determined to break the drugs-crime
circle. The strategy is to use each stage of the criminal justice
system to identify drug misusing offenders and get them into treatment.
This reduces both their criminal activity and their use of illegal
drugs. An evaluation of pilot arrest referral schemes has shown
an 80 per cent reduction in offending rates amongst those successfully
referred into treatment.
The Government is now aiming to extend arrest
referral schemes through a joint funding initiative with the police.
The Home Secretary announced in July 1999 that £20 million
has been made available for the next two years to match-fund the
appointment of arrest referral workers and to put resources towards
the new demands on treatment services. The target is to provide
coverage of arrest referral schemes for all police custody suites
by April 2002. The results of the joint funding initiative suggest
that we are well on course to achieving that objective.
6. The likely advantages of new sentences
for drug-related offenders which would combine treatment in both
custodial and non-custodial settings should be fully assessed
Identifying drug misusing offenders at every
stage in the criminal justice system is now a prime objective
of the Government's crime reduction strategy and will make an
important contribution to the overall aims of the 10 year drugs
strategy. The provisions in the Criminal Justice and Court Services
Bill currently before Parliament will build upon drug testing
already being carried out through the Drug Treatment and Testing
Order and drug testing in prison. The Bill provides for the compulsory
drug testing of offenders and alleged offenders at various points
in the criminal justice system. The new powers will allow for
drug testing for heroin and crack/cocaine misuse:
after charge with a relevant offence
(acquisitive crime, robbery and Class A drug offences) at the
police station with a view to informing subsequent bail decisions
of a court and assisting in referrals to a drug worker;
after conviction for a relevant offence,
where the offender is made subject to a community sentence containing
a drug testing requirement;
after release from prison on license.
In addition, courts will be given a new free-standing
community sentencethe Drug Abstinence Order which will
enable a Probation Officer to monitor an offender's progress with
the help of drug testing. The new drug testing regime will help
in identifying drug misusing offenders, referring them into treatment
where appropriate and in monitoring their progress. We have already
indicated that, as in the case of the Drug Treatment and Testing
Order, the new drug testing arrangements will be piloted initially
in three areas before decisions are taken on how and to what extent
they are rolled out nationally.
11. We consider that a more consistent
delivery in all prisons of a more coherent policy on drugs than
has hitherto been the case should be a central objective for the
Prison Service in implementing the new strategy, based on an analysis
of best practice (paragraph 38).
The implementation of CARATs means there is
now a common basic service in all prisons. Contracts for treatment
services contain standard national specifications and the programmes
must achieve accreditation by 2002. The Prison Service has appointed
two Treatment Advisers to help with the development of treatment
programmes, to ensure consistency and to provide guidance on the
12. We have been struck by the extent
to which witnesses have highlighted the need to address the alcohol
abuse problems of those sent to prison. We look to the Prison
Service to devote serious effort to this issue in the development
of its programmes for addressing offending behaviour (paragraph
The high priority the Prison Service has attached
to tackling drug misuse in recent years reflects the fact that
this has been at the top of the Government's agenda. However,
neither the Prison Service nor Home Office Ministers underestimate
the need to tackle the problems associated with alcohol. Proposals
to develop an alcohol strategy in 2001-02 will be put to the Prison
Service Management Board in due course.
13. We conclude that drug use is more
likely to flourish in prisons where, whether arising from problems
of resources or of facilities or of management, prisoners are
not sufficiently engaged in constructive activity. It is clear
that there is still a long way to go in bringing prison activities
and regimes up to desirable levels. We see it as a necessity that
there are further improvements in this field (paragraph 47).
The Government is committed to constructive
regimes. Additional resources for regimes of over £200 million
in 1999-2002 were provided by the comprehensive spending review.
They are being targeted at regime activities which are most likely
to reduce reoffending including drug treatment programmes, offending
behaviour programmes and education in basic and key skills to
improve employability. For the current year to end August, we
are at 23.6 hours per prisoner each week in purposeful activity.
The 24 hour target for the year is still attainable but prisons
need to deliver up to 10 per cent more hours in the second half
of the year than they have so far in the first for this to happen.
14. It is clear that there is a danger
of a shortage of qualified drug workers in the community; any
such shortage would de-rail the Prison Service anti-drug strategy
or adversely impact on the national anti-drugs strategy. Appropriate
steps must be taken by all relevant government agencieswhich
must include the Department of Health as well as the Home Officeto
address this problem. The UKADC must have an overall responsibility
to ensure that overall needs are assessed and that the necessary
steps are taken to ensure sufficient training takes place (paragraph
The Government agrees that this problem cannot
be solved by any one department alone. A new National Treatment
Agency will be set up by April 2001. It will be responsible for
a pooled national treatment budget, bringing together Home Office
and Department of Health funds to be managed jointly. Its role
will be to expand drug treatment provision and ensure the delivery
of high quality services throughout the country.
Recruitment difficulties did cause delays to
programmes in some areas but CARATs and the 33 new treatment programmes
are now fully operational. We should not underestimate the capability
and willingness of prison staff, with training, to play a full
part in the running of services.
15. We are in no doubt that measures
to reduce further the supply of drugs must be a key element of
the Prison Service drugs strategy (paragraph 56).
Supply reduction is a major part of the current
strategy. Numbers of drug dogs increased to 121 passive and 196
active. CCTV is now available in the visits areas of 118 prisons.
16. We recommend that [the project to
map the principal routes by which prisoners acquire drugs] is
completed as a matter of urgency (paragraph 56).
Our first priority was to set up CARATs and
the new rehabilitation programmes so all prisoners had access
to treatment. Because these new services took longer than expected
to introducemainly because of recruitment difficultiesthe
project on supply routes has also been delayed. Now expected to
be completed in December. Meanwhile a number of steps have been
taken to reduce the supply of drugsmore dogs, extra CCTV,
more fixed and low-level furniture, visitor bans.
17. We are convinced that disruption
of dealers' activities through the use of intelligence must be
a priority for the Prison Service. We are encouraged by the establishment
of the system of Police Liaison Officers and recommend its expansion
to provide adequate cover for each prison. In addition, while
recognising the role of the Police Advisers Section in providing
intelligence to the police, we recommend that steps should be
taken to ensure that more use is made of it to provide intelligence
to the Prison Service on the identities and activities of drug
dealers who enter prisons as inmates or visitors (paragraph
The restructuring of Security Group which is
currently underway will enable more effort to be put into the
central management of intelligence relating to selected individual
prisoners or groups of prisoners who are considered to represent
particular threats, including those involved in drug supply.
18. It is our view that insufficient
action has been taken to date to disrupt the operations of prisoners
who peddle drugs. We recommend that the Prison Service encourage
governors to make wider use of their segregation units to house
known drug dealers (paragraph 59).
It has long been Prison Service policy that
segregation should not be used as a punishment. Instead of segregating
drug dealers routinely, the Prison Service believes it is better
to approach the problem by concentrating on disrupting their activities
through action taken within the wider context of supply reduction.
A clear distinction must be drawn between prisoners
who have been convicted of drug-dealing in the community and those
prisoners dealing in drugs within prison. It does not automatically
follow that those convicted of trafficking will continue their
activities in prison.
19. We consider that there is insufficient
evidence to justify the introduction of a blanket or random testing
programme for prison staff at this time. . . We do, however, support
the introduction of drug testing of staff where there are reasonable
grounds for suspicion of their involvement in supplying drugs
The Prison Service review of drug misuse policy
for staff is still underway. The testing of staff for alcohol
and drugs, where it is felt that performance is being impaired
as a result of alcohol or substance abuse, is being considered.
Contracts with external drug agencies for CARATs
and treatment services allow for testing of their staff working
in prisons. For the time being this will apply only in the High
Security Prisons because of their special security requirements.
Other establishments may follow if testing is introduced for prison
20. We support the principle that random
searching of staff should take place at all prisons, and recommend
that the frequency of such searching shouldin the interests
of the staff themselvesbe increased (paragraph 61).
All staff are subject to random entry and exit
searching. Staff in High Security Prisons must be searched on
every entry. Governors should determine the frequency of searching
according to the security needs of their prisons and the resources
21. [We] recommend that each prison should
be provided with a well-equipped Visitors Centre where the opportunity
can be taken to provide information on the legal and health risks
of drug misuse and to provide support services for visitors who
may be under pressure to supply drugs. We commend the Prison Service
for its collaboration with Adfam in this area (paragraph 63).
The Prison Service continues to work in partnership
with the voluntary sector in the expansion of provision of visitors'
centres. However, we acknowledge that there are often difficulties
in terms of funding arrangements and demarcation. It is hoped
that visitors' centres will benefit from the work currently being
undertaken to develop a strategy for the voluntary sector. The
aim is to ensure that voluntary/community sector providers are
given clarity and consistency as to the standards and practices
to be provided by individual establishments.
In setting standards, the Prison Service continues
to promulgate the visitors' centres good practice guidelines to
establishments, as well as present and potential providers. Information
and service provision will be further improved following publication
and implementation of the Prison Service Charter, which will set
out for visitors to prison the level and standard of service to
be provided, in addition to key, relevant information on matters
such as security procedures during visits.
22. We urge the Prison Service to continue
with its programme to update visitors areas and the dissemination
of best practice to minimise opportunities for drugs to be passed
during visits (paragraph 64).
The Prison Service Security Manual disseminates
best practice in this area. A whole chapter is devoted to visits
issues. Examples of local good practice are disseminated monthly
by means of the Monthly Security Briefing.
The service is committed to the installation
of CCTV in all appropriate prison visitors areas. This is dependent
on available resources. All Category A and B prisons and almost
all Category C have been provided with it for some time, and a
number of others are installing it.
23. We support the extension of the use
of CCTV across the prison estate but urge the Prison Service to
be aware that CCTV should be seen as only one weapon in its armoury
against the import of drugs. In particular, we recommend that
CCT monitors are manned at all times by officers fully trained
in their use (paragraph 65).
CCTV in visits areas has increased from 90 prisons
last year to 118. Other measures include more dogs (121 passive
and 196 active), more fixed and low-level furniture and visitor
24. We recommend that the Prison Service
ensures that the advice it receives on drug detection technology
is fully up-to-date so that it is in a position to conduct its
own trials of equipment as soon as practicable (paragraph
The Prison Service receives advice from the
Police Scientific Development Branch of the Home Office. They
have already conducted an evaluation of the latest available equipment
and concluded that it did not meet minimum Prison Service requirements.
It would therefore be premature to conduct any field trials at
present. The Prison Service, in co-operation with other Government
departments, is exploring the potential to commission detailed
research to inform the user requirement for any detection technology.
25. We are convinced that passive drug
dogs are a particularly effective method of preventing the import
of drugs, representing excellent value for money. We therefore
recommend that each prison should have its own passive drug dog,
funded centrally by the Prison Service (paragraph 68).
The Prison Service currently deploys 121 passive
drug dogs. It aims to have one drug dog in each prison by the
end of the current financial year.
26. We agree that a more flexible approach
to the use of drugs dogs should be considered by the Prison Service,
including their deployment on random patrol of landings at night,
both as a deterrent and as an aid to the gathering of intelligence
on drug use (paragraph 69).
Although the Government shares the Committee's
view, it cannot be implemented for the time being because it would
have considerable cost implications, including the cost of additional
staff to investigate incidents following a discovery. While prisoners
are in their cells overnight, staffing is maintained at a relatively
low level, and less qualified and costly staff are made use of.
27. We recommend that the Prison Service
review how the standard of searching procedures throughout the
Service might be raised. In particular, we recommend that it address
as a matter of urgency the recruitment of female officers so that
all prisons are able to conduct adequate searches of female visitors
The Prison Service expects to issue guidance
to Governors later this year to help them determine the appropriate
staff gender mix to meet their legal and operational needs. The
guidance will also cover the application of genuine occupational
qualifications to certain posts where it is felt necessary that
a specific gender is necessary.
28. We believe that training in appropriate
ways of dealing with visitors should be in place for all officers
working in visits, and that all staff on visits duty should wear
name badges to aid the investigation of complaints (paragraph
In the interests of greater transparency and
accountability, the Prison Service has recently introduced numbered
epaulettes for prison officers and name badges for all other staff.
Members of staff will be readily identifiable to prisoners, visitors
and other colleagues.
The Drug Strategy Unit is currently conducting
a training needs analysis (TNA) linked to the delivery of the
drug strategy. The TNA will explore the training needs of visits
staff. Operational considerations mean that in some prisons the
visits process is managed by staff on rotation rather than a dedicated
team. This adds to the training requirement.
30. We recognise that the new controls
and sanctions over those passing or receiving drugs visits are
an important signal of the determination of the Prison Service
to act against those who abuse the right of visits. However, we
wish to see a full evaluation of their effect to be published
as soon as practicable (paragraph 76).
Headline data continue to be very encouraging.
In 1999-2000, 3,144 visitors were involved in suspicious incidents,
with punitive action taken against 89 per cent of them. Of those,
78 per cent received a visits ban and a further 10 per cent were
the subject of a closed visit order. 23 per cent were arrested.
2,074 prisoners were made subject to closed visits and 1,086 were
found guilty of drug offences at adjudication.
Full year figures are as follows.