Page last updated at 00:31 GMT, Sunday, 22 March 2009

Scottish jails 'awash' with drugs

Dumfries Prison
The Conservatives would like to see drug-free wings established in jails

Drugs are seized in Scottish jails almost five times a day on average, according to official figures.

There were 2,122 cases of drugs being discovered in prisons from January 2008 to March 2009.

Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie said the problem had doubled in five years, with jails now "awash" with drugs.

The Scottish Government said it had a "zero tolerance" attitude to drug use and was working to limit supply.

The figures were released in response to a parliamentary question from Miss Goldie.

We should be helping prisoners get off drugs, rather than providing an environment for drugs to flourish
Annabel Goldie
Scottish Conservative leader

She said: "It is nothing short of incredible that the number of drug finds in our prisons has more than doubled in less than five years.

"In 2003 there was an average of 2.3 drug finds per day. For the past few years that figure has more than doubled.

"It is unacceptable and it appears that Scotland's prisons are now awash with drugs."

The Conservatives have called for every prison to have a drug-free wing where inmates can go to when they want to come off drugs.

"We should be helping prisoners get off drugs, rather than providing an environment for drugs to flourish," Miss Goldie said.

She also demanded tough action against those caught supplying drugs to prisoners.

Glass screens

"We would also consider prison visits taking place behind glass screens to ensure that there is no contact between prisoners and their visitors and therefore deny them the opportunity of passing over drugs," she said.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said it had already introduced measures to curb the use of mobile phones in jail, which would have an impact on drug smuggling.

He said: "We and the Scottish Prison Service are committed to zero tolerance of drug use and trafficking in prisons.

"Significant investment has already been made in the development of new technology to detect and deter the introduction of illegal drugs and other commodities in prison."

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