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17 April 2012, 09:36
Inspections at Durham Prison have found one in eight inmates developed a drug problem after being locked up.
A poll of a quarter of all inmates at Durham Prison last year found 13% had developed a problem with drugs since being held in the category B local prison.
The critical inspection also found that up to a third (33.3%) of prisoners were failing random drugs tests, more than a third (36%) thought it was easy to get hold of drugs and almost one in five (18%) thought they would still have a problem after being released.
Nick Hardwick, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, warned not enough was being done to tackle the problem which was linked to bullying and self-harm, saying the most troubling problem facing the prison was the availability of drugs.
Mr Hardwick said:
"The availability of drugs was a significant cause of bullying in the prison. The supply reduction plan was out of date and there was a degree of complacency and a lack of rigour in tackling the problem.
Efforts to reduce demand were also weak. The drug treatment service was poorly staffed and lacked leadership. Many qualified staff had left recently.
Inspectors also found links between poor treatment and self-harm."
The report showed there were more than 250 incidents of self-harm in the nine months before the inspection in October last year.
The survey of 216 of the 928 prisoners (23%) at the North East jail last September found that, on average, one in five inmates (21.7%) tested positive during random drugs tests in the six months to last August but this rose to 33.3% in both February and June.
The inspectors expressed concern that only 53 of the 115 suspicion tests requested between July and September were carried out.
Michael Spurr, chief executive of the National Offender Management Service, said:
"I accept that there is more to do, especially with regard to drugs, and the governor and his staff will focus on the areas identified for further improvement.''