The government’s plan to reduce crime with drug crackdowns in prisons described as “short-sighted”


The government has announced a £ 100million crackdown on drugs in prisons which it says will ‘tackle the scourge of recidivism and reduce crime’ – but the plan has been called ‘oversimplified and short-lived. seen “.

The ministers said new measures to prevent drugs from entering prisons and to create the “right conditions” to reform and rehabilitate offenders will see “airport-type” security as the norm in prisons.

This will include state-of-the-art x-ray body scanners, biometric identification for visitors and drug-addicted dogs and hand wands at prison gates, according to the Department of Justice (MOJ).

Every inmate will be assessed for their drug and alcohol addiction upon arrival in custody, and tough new targets will hold prison managers to account for keeping drugs out of their prisons.

Ministers pledged in last month’s spending review to ‘continue the largest prison building program in more than a century’, with £ 3.8 billion in funding to provide 20,000 places. additional prison by the mid-2020s.

Boris Johnson today unveiled in a white paper on prisons that, along with increasing the number of prison spaces, “prisons must also play their part in reducing crime and preventing future victims”.

“That is why with a zero tolerance approach to drugs and greater autonomy for governors to maintain good order, our reforms will crack down on the causes of recidivism and ensure that prison pays,” Premier said. minister before the announcement.

However, Andrea Coomber, executive director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said suggesting the answer lies in cracking down on drugs was “oversimplified and short-sighted” and did not solve the root of the problem.

“Successive governments have tried to tackle the drug scourge with security measures, but the root cause of the problem is the fact that we have overcrowded prisons where people do not get useful jobs and education,” she added.

“If, at the same time as it is spending all this money on security, the government commits to massively increasing the number of prisons, then the reality is that the drug problem will worsen, and the resources needed to coping with it will also increase. “

Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, echoed his concerns. He said that while investments to keep drugs out of jails and help people detoxify were “welcome,” it was “not a new ambition” and the record of keeping promises of prisons was “poor”.

“You cannot build prison reform on the basis of overcrowded and dilapidated prisons where inmates spend most of their day in their cells. It is life in prisons where these problems are most acute, ”he added.

“The government risks addressing the symptoms of our broken prison system, not the causes.”

As part of the plans, the government will also consider using scanners to search for personnel who may be corrupt – which it says would prevent vulnerable frontline officers from being blackmailed into bringing items. illegal in prisons.

Prisons will be assigned individual targets on the number of drug tests to be performed and, for the first time, they will also be held accountable for the rehabilitation of drug addicts and their success in bringing inmates to meaningful recovery. .

A range of treatment options, including abstinence therapy, will lift prisoners out of the debilitating addictions known to fuel crime, helping to reduce excessive dependence on opioid substitutes like methadone which can be highly addictive, the said. Ministry of Justice.

It comes after an analysis of data by think tank Reform last year found that the number of inmates developing drug problems had more than doubled in five years – followed by fears that Mr.


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