Prisons in Parliament

Prisoner drug testing and prison governor training

Widespread drug testing in prisons planned in April: Image, Jason Cope

Prisons in Parliament keeping you up-to-date on the last week of politics and prisons. What has been said and by whom? Find out here…


Drug testing in prison

What steps are being taken to eradicate new psychoactive substances across the prison estate? Asked Jo Stevens, Shadow Secretary of State for Justice.

Andrew Selous, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Justice,  outlined existing drug detection measures:

“We take a zero tolerance approach to drugs in prison and there are already a range of robust measures in place to detect drugs, including the use of search dogs and intelligence-led searches”

He added that new testing would be introduced this year:

“In April 2016, we plan to introduce widespread mandatory drug testing of prisoners for psychoactive substances. Those who are found to have used psychoactive substances will face sanctions under prison rules, including by having days added to their time in custody.”


Northern Ireland prison officer numbers

Thomas Buchanan, DUP, asked whether the lack of prison officers in Maghaberry prison is the reason for so many staff being off as a result of injuries received while on duty.

David Ford, Northern Ireland Minister for Justice, acknowledged that there is currently a reduced number of prison officers but he did not agree that the prisoner to staff ratio was responsible for the high numbers of injuries.

“No. I do not agree that that is the position. In recent months, a cultural shift has led to many more officers being on duty and ensured that prisoners are being managed better, in a way that reduces tension and is less likely to lead to injury to officers or other prisoners.”


Prison governor training

Kate Green, Shadow Minister for Women and Equality, asked which organisations provide diversity and equality training to prison governors.

Andrew Selous said training is available through the Civil Service Learning suite of products. He did not specify whether this training is mandatory.

“All Prison Governors have access to this learning offer… Equality and diversity consideration is a component of all business specific learning” he said.

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