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Prison tests show a 63% reduction in drug use over three years 7 February 2007

REGULAR random drug tests carried out at the Isle of Man Prison show illegal drug use by inmates has fallen dramatically from 20.9% in 2004 to 7.62% last year.

The Department of Home Affairs is delighted that the figure amounts to a 63% reduction over three years and a significant fall on the 2005 figure of 12.8%.

Minister Martyn Quayle commented:

‘This reduction demonstrates the success of the prison management’s hardline policy on drugs. It is especially pleasing because last year’s figure was below the UK prison service’s target of 10%, and efforts will continue to maintain the low level.’

Every month 10% of prisoners are asked to provide urine samples which are tested for all illegal substances. A positive sample or refusal to provide a sample results in a loss of privileges while a negative result is rewarded with phone credits.

Deputy Governor Colin Ring explained:

‘At present 32% of prisoners are here for dealing or using drugs and 56% have a history of drug use. There isn’t a prison in Britain which is drug free and prisoners come up with ever more ingenious ways of getting hold of drugs. We know a wrap of heroin can be hidden under a stamp and drugs have been thrown over the wall, hidden in mail, in felt-tip pens, clothing or even passed to a prisoner in a kiss.
‘We have increased drugs searches. All visitors are searched and their property and outer clothing is x-rayed. In addition, we are recruiting a second dog handler which will double the number of times dogs can carry out cell and other searches for drugs. Additional measures include cameras in the visitors’ room and more staff training in the latest drug search techniques.’

The IOM Prison introduced random drug testing to counter the use of drugs in prison as part of the Chief Minister’s Drug and Alcohol Strategy to reduce the availability of drugs and the harm resulting from drug use. This is one of a number of measures based on best practice as recommended by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons in the United Kingdom.

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