Drugs found more than 1,200 times in Doncaster prisons in one year

Drugs were found in Doncaster prisons more than 1,200 times last year, new figures reveal.

Wednesday, 25th August 2021, 11:11 am

Ministry of Justice data reveals 813 searches uncovered drugs within HMP Doncaster in the year to March – down from 835 the previous year.

The most commonly-found drug was psychoactive substances, with 662 seizures made.

In neighbouring HMP Moorland, 53 searches uncovered drugs - down from 120 the previous year.

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The number of drug seizures made in Doncaster prisons has been disclosed (Photo: PA)

Drug finds at Lindholme prison hit a five-year high last year.

Seizures were made on 323 occasions – up from 272 the previous year.

It is the highest number since comparable records began in 2016-17.

At HMP Hatfield drugs were found 56 times – up from 45 the previous year.

There were a total of 1,245 drug seizures made in South Yorkshire.

Across England and Wales, the number of drug finds in prisons fell six per cent to 20,300 – a reduction Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service has linked to restrictions placed on prisons during the pandemic.

However, there was an increase in discoveries of psychoactive substances – the most commonly-found drug type nationally – and cocaine.

In March last year a five-tier restriction scale was imposed on prisons in a bid to protect inmates and staff from the spread of Covid-19.

In an annual report for 2020-21, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons for England and Wales said out of 70 prisoners interviewed across six prisons, most had spent the pandemic locked in their cells for more than 22 hours a day.

The report continued: "Some prisoners had turned to using drugs to manage their isolation and chronic boredom."

Frances Crook, chief executive of penal reform charity the Howard League, said drugs were a “scourge” in prisons.

She added: “They have a devastating impact on the lives of prisoners and their families, and we know that the number of confiscations recorded even before the pandemic did not tell the whole story about the true scale of the problem.”

MoJ figures also show the number of seizures of other banned item in prisons last year.

At HMP Doncaster, officers discovered mobile phones on 70 occasions, alcohol 100 times and weapons on 109 occasions.

In HMP Moorland, officers discovered mobile phones on nine occasions, alcohol 39 times and weapons on 30 occasions.

Mobile phones were found on 102 occasions at HMP Lindholme, alcohol 249 times and weapons on 84 occasions.

Searches at HMP Hatfield led to the discovery of 82 mobile phones, alcohol 14 times and weapons twice.

Since 2016, HMPPS said it had taken measures to target the supply of banned items in prisons.

They included a rollout of specialist search teams, new airport-style scanners and mobile phone detection technology.

But mandatory random drug testing has been severely disrupted during the pandemic year, the service acknowledged.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “Our £100 million investment to bolster security through X-ray body scanners and extra searches continues to stop drugs getting into the hands of prisoners.

“This is part of wider funding to make jails safer, while working closely with healthcare providers to ensure offenders have the support they need to live drug-free upon release.”

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