Drugs ‘a problem’ at prison

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A PRISON has been rated as “reasonably good” by inspectors, but concerns have been raised about the supply of drugs.

Holme House prison, which houses prisoners from Hartlepool and east Durham, was subject to an unannounced inspection from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons who say it is challenging to run.

The report found that drugs were a major issue, despite the prison tackling this “robustly”, and some violence was drug-related.

Prison campaigners say one in six prisoners said they had developed a drug problem while in Holme House and more than 40 per cent said it is easy to obtain drugs in the prison.

The report found the recently introduced national integrated drug treatment system needed improved staffing and better co-ordination, that vulnerable prisoners felt less safe than other prisoners and not all violent incidents were investigated.

Inspectors praised measures to prevent suicide and self-harm, said staff took pride in their work and the training of staff was also praised at the prison, in Stockton.

They also found that there was inadequate recording of emergency evacuation plans for prisoners with disabilities and prison officers refused to push prisoners in wheelchairs.

But the report added that some of the facilities were excellent, time out of the cell was better than many similar prisons, and training and education was of a good quality.

Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, said: “Despite these concerns, Holme House delivered reasonably good outcomes in challenging circumstances for most prisoners.

“However, a small minority of more vulnerable prisoners were not dealt with as positively, and the supply of illegal drugs in the prison is a threat that needs continued efforts to be tackled effectively.”

Juliet Lyon, director of Prison Reform Trust, said: “This report shows that, even in what is seen as one of the better functioning local prisons, time spent in custody can set many people on a hopeless downward spiral.

“An incredible one in six prisoners said they had developed a drug problem while in Holme House and more than 40 per cent said it is easy to obtain drugs in the prison.”