One in eight Durham prison inmates have drug habit

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ONE in eight inmates develop a drug habit while they are in jail, it was revealed today.

The figure came in a report about HMP Durham, a category B establishment which houses 981 men, by the Inspectorate of Prisons.

It found that one in five prisoners tested positive in random drug tests, and more than a third said it was easy to get drugs inside.

Also, the availability of drugs was a significant cause of bullying, and there was a lack of rigour in tackling the problem.

The report said Durham jail was not sufficiently safe, with around 110 violent incidents a month and ineffective measures to address the behaviour of those responsible.

Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons, said checks identified slow progress against a backdrop of significant concerns.

The report also raised issue about the amount of time inmates spent in their cells, overcrowding, consideration for the needs of the young prisoners, and efforts to address the risk of reoffending,

However, inspectors were pleased that use of force was not excessive, there had been improvements in learning and skills, some good new facilities, staff and prisoner relationships were reasonable – although less so for the young adults – the range of mental health services was developing positively, and resettlement was improving.

Mr Hardwick said: “HMP Durham presents a mixed picture,” adding while some issues were being addressed, some were not being given the attention they needed.

Michael Spurr, chief executive officer of the National Offender Management Service), said: “Durham is currently subject to a competition process and major refurbishment, and I’m pleased that the chief inspector records that it continues to improve particularly in resettlement and learning and skills.

“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.”

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham

DURHAM Prison could be run by a private company if a new multimillion pound bid gets the green light.

Construction and support services firm Interserve has teamed up with Durham Tees Valley Probation Trust in the first national agreement between a private business and a probation trust.

The first step in the new alliance involves bidding to run three prisons — Durham, Onley in Northamptonshire and Wolds in Humberside.

Interserve has been approved by the Ministry of Justice to bid in the latest round of prison competitions.

Yvonne Thomas of Interserve said: “This ground-breaking alliance will bring together two unique sets of organisational expertise, which will enable us to develop and sustain new ways of working to reduce reoffending and protect the public.”

Sebert Cox, chairman of the Durham Tees Probation Trust, said: “Like every other public sector organisation we must constantly explore new ways of doing business, and that includes looking to develop partnerships to share expertise, resources and investment.

“Our core purpose is to protect the public by managing and rehabilitating offenders effectively, and that will be the heart of this agreement.”