Scottish Government figures show 168% increase at Craiginches since 2007
Drug seizures at Craiginches Prison in Aberdeen have nearly trebled in the last three years.
Scottish Government figures show there were 134 seizures at the jail last year, a 168% increase since 2007 when there were 50. The increase was far higher than the total across Scotland where drug seizures went up by 12% from 1,626 to 1,829 over the same period.
Labour called for a redoubling of efforts to rid Scotland’s jails of drugs. Yesterday, Chief Inspector of Prisons Brigadier Hugh Munro warned that drug testing needed to be tightened up because addiction programmes were rendered pointless by ineffective testing regimes.
The only other prison with a similar number of drug seizures in the north-east was Perth where the number has remained relatively static with an average of 138 over three years.
At Inverness Prison seizures were up from 11 to 19. The number at the two open prisons, Castle Huntly and Noranside, in Tayside, fell from 63 to 53, as did those at Peterhead, down from six to one. North-east MSP and Labour justice spokesman Richard Baker said: “Drugs are far too prevalent in Scotland’s prisons and Brig Munro is quite right to say more needs to be done. “With a rising tide of drugs getting into our prisons there is a need to redouble our efforts to rid our prisons of drugs.”
The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) said increased seizures were a sign that efforts to reduce drug taking and smuggling into jails were working. An SPS spokesman said money had been invested in new technology such as mobile drug tracing and X-ray machines, and the “most effective deterrent” – sniffer dogs.
“New legislation will also tackle the issue of mobile phones which are a key element in drug trafficking in prisons,” he said. “High levels of finds, such as those at HMP Aberdeen which doubled in two years, are an indicator of success.”
The Tories released figures showing a 37% increase in the number of prisoners receiving the heroin substitute methadone. A snapshot of one day showed the number on the drug went up from 1,228 in 2006 to 1,679 this year. The percentage of the prison population on methadone went up from 17.1% to 21.5%.
Tory justice spokesman John Lamont said: “This is extremely worrying. This rise in prisoners in receipt of methadone suggests that efforts to move drug addicts towards abstinence are not working properly.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said the percentage of prisoners prescribed methadone had risen by less than 3% since the current SNP administration came into office in 2007. “Getting people into treatment is the most effective way of reducing drug use and breaking the links between drugs and crime,” he said. “Methadone has a role to play among a range of treatments and support available to help people recover from their drug problems.”
The SPS said 85% of prisoners on methadone were continuing medication prescribed before they were sentenced while 15% were on new prescriptions initiated in custody. “According to the latest prisoner survey in 2009, almost a quarter of prisoners are currently on a reducing methadone dose as part of their recovery programme,” a spokesman said.
Source: www.pressandjournal.co.uk 3rd Sept. 2010