Doncaster prisons awarded cash to crackdown on drugs and mobile phones behind bars

Lindholme Prison, Doncaster
Lindholme Prison, Doncaster

Two Doncaster prisons are to tackle the use of drugs and illegal mobile phones behind bars as part of a £10 million project

The government is sharing the funding between 10 jails with 'acute' problems, with each due to receive new scanners capable of spotting packages inside bodies.

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Sniffer dogs will also be trained to detect new psychoactive substances to prevent them being smuggled in.

And the cash will also be used to improve perimeter fences and to carry out repairs to make it more difficult for drugs and phones to get into prisons.

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Prisons Minister Rory Stewart said the funding is aimed at lifting standards and paving the way for a 'new ethos' in all prisons.

Lindholme and Moorland prisons in Doncaster are among the 10 selected for the programme.

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Mr Stewart said: "With more than 20,000 prison officers, 84,000 prisoners and over 100 prisons, it is vital we set challenging standards so prisons are places where offenders can turn their lives around.

"With the right leadership on the ground, and support from the centre, these 10 prisons will pave the way for a new approach, a new ethos and a new direction.

"We need to make these prisons calmer, more orderly places and in the end that comes down to challenging and managing prisoners consistently, firmly and fairly."

The Ministry of Justice said the jails have issued with drug use and violence.

Officials said the scheme will be up and running in all 10 prisons by the end of the year, with 'tangible results' expected within 12 months.

It is the latest in a string of steps aimed at tackling the safety crisis that has gripped the prisons system in recent years.

Figures published last month showed self-harm incidents and assaults in jails were at record levels, while finds of drugs and mobile phones increased by 23 per cent and 15 per cent respectively in the year to March.

Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: "The governors of the 10 prisons will be pleased to have a little more money, wherever it comes from."

He said Mr Stewart 'must concentrate on the job only he can do - matching the demands on the system to the resource Parliament is prepared to make available for it'.

"It was a catastrophic failure to provide that balance which caused the collapse of prison safety after 2012 - trying to tell governors how to run prisons is not going to put it right," he added.

Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon said the Government should 'go much further', adding: "It must set out an emergency plan across the prisons estate with substantial new funding to put an end to this crisis and make our prisons safe and humane for staff and inmates."

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, welcomed the additional funding but warned that 'the devil will be in the detail'.