Page last updated at 00:07 GMT, Sunday, 29 March 2009

Call to drug test all prisoners

Prisoner in cell
Ms Goldie said all inmates should be tested on their arrival in jail

Prisoners in Scottish jails should all face mandatory drug testing, according to the Conservatives.

The Scottish Conservatives leader, Annabel Goldie, made the call as new figures revealed about half of inmates were not screened.

Ms Goldie said the official figures showed an "alarming disparity" across the prison service.

The Scottish Government said it had invested in technology to detect illegal drugs being brought into jails.

Ministers released the drug testing statistics following a parliamentary question from the Tories.

'New offence'

The figures showed 40,791 prisoners were sent to Scottish jails between 2007 and 2008 and 20,800 prisoners underwent random drug tests over the past 12 months.

Ms Goldie said: "Put simply, all prisoners should be subjected to a drugs test upon their arrival in jail.

"This testing must be comprehensive, robust and consistent."

The Conservatives' call came days after figures showed there were 2,122 discoveries of drugs in prisons between January 2008 and March 2009 - the equivalent of nearly five finds a day.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "We have already brought forward changes to prison rules to prohibit the use or introduction of mobile phones in prison and included in our Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) bill provisions, creating a new offence of bringing personal communication devices (including mobile phones) into prison - with penalties of up to two years imprisonment.

"This will be a significant step in preventing drugs coming into and being traded within prison."



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