Prisons carry out so few mandatory drugs tests on inmates that officials have ... trends now

Prisons carry out so few mandatory drugs tests on inmates that officials have ... trends now
Prisons carry out so few mandatory drugs tests on inmates that officials have ... trends now

Prisons carry out so few mandatory drugs tests on inmates that officials have ... trends now

Prisons carried out so few drugs tests last year that officials stopped publishing data on the number coming back positive, MailOnline can reveal. 

Drug use is endemic inside prisons in England and Wales, with a recent inspection at HMP Hindley  revealing half of inmates were abusing illegal substances

The Ministry of Justice has vowed to clamp down on the issue and made mandatory drugs tests a 'priority' area for the Prison Service. 

Every year jails are rated according to how well they are performing on a series of measures, including how many mandatory drugs tests come back positive.

But the latest statistical bulletin for the year 2022/23 redacted the figures because there few tests were conducted. 

HMP Parc in Wales, where six prisoners are thought to have died from a contaminated batch of spice

HMP Parc in Wales, where six prisoners are thought to have died from a contaminated batch of spice 

Charlie Taylor, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, told MailOnline he was 'disappointed' that regular mandatory testing had 'fallen by the wayside'. 

'The ingress of drugs is a serious problem in prisons, driving high levels of violence and creating a very challenging environment for all of those living and working in our jails,' he said. 

'Mandatory random drug testing is an important way of finding perpetrators of drug use in prison, and also understanding how extensive the problem is so that a prison can best focus its response. 

'It's disappointing that this has fallen to the wayside in many of our jails. 

'In those prisons where it is taking place, the results are worrying – more than half of prisoners were actively using drugs in one recent inspection.' 

Professor Ian Acheson, a former prison governor and author of Screwed: Britain's Prison Crisis and How To Escape It, was shocked when he came across the figures.

He wrote in an exclusive op-ed for MailOnline: 'The prison drugs market is enormous and much of it is under the control of organised crime cartels who have a literally captive market and enormous mark ups for product.

'And now we can't even know the true scale of the problem because the prison service redacted its own findings.'

Professor Acheson suggested a lack of prison officers to carry out the tests could be to blame.

'I have my strong suspicion this is because in many prisons, crippled by staff shortages, officers deployed to test for drugs were instead used to maintain safe unlocking ratios on the landings,' he said. 

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