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Last Updated: Friday, 13 August, 2004, 05:28 GMT 06:28 UK
Prison 'worst' for drug taking
Prison bars
The PRT claims prisons are not meeting prisoners' needs
Two Lancashire prisons are the worst in the UK for drug use and overcrowding, says a Prison Reform Trust (PRT) study.

In a survey of drug tests 35% of inmates at Kirkham Prison proved positive, almost 5% higher than any other jail, said the PRT.

Preston Prison was the worst for overcrowding, showing more than 90% of inmates sharing single cells.

Prison Service performance indicators targets (KPIs) are 10% on drug use and 18% for overcrowding, said the PRT.

In terms of drug use Liverpool prison comes fourth in the study, with 28.3% of tests proving positive.

'Inhumane and ineffective'

The study 'A Measure of Success', for the 2003/4 financial year, analyses the Prison Service's performance against its main targets.

These also include number of hours inmates are involved in "purposeful activity", the numbers of serious assaults on inmates and staff, educational skill awards, and suicides.

Preston also emerged as one of three prisons, along with Durham and Blakenhurst, with four prisoners taking their own lives.

The PRT claims the report shows the failure of the Prison Service to meet the majority of its own KPI targets and shows they do not "reflect the diverse needs of prisoners".

"This report demonstrates that overcrowded jails don't work," said Enver Solomon, the report's author.

"They are unsafe, inhumane and ineffective. Far too many prisoners are passively serving time when they should be actively paying back the damage they have caused to communities."

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