Freed inmates from Saughton Prison test positive for drugs

Prisoners released from Saughton tested positive. Picture: Julie Bull
Prisoners released from Saughton tested positive. Picture: Julie Bull

NEARLY one in three prisoners are testing positive for drugs on release from Saughton Prison, it has emerged.

Official figures reveal 31 percent of newly-freed inmates had taken illegal narcotics, including heroin substitutes and cannabis or misused prescribed substances.

It’s clear that we are seeing too many offenders continuing their criminality within the HMP Edinburgh walls

MILES BRIGGS

Political opponents claimed the numbers undermine any attempts being made to rehabilitate criminals and cut reoffending rates.

“It’s clear that we are seeing too many offenders continuing their criminality within the HMP Edinburgh walls,” said Scottish Conservative MSP for Lothian, Miles Briggs.

Nationally, 1164 inmates were caught either taking drugs or administering them to others last year, the equivalent of more than three a day.

The figure has nearly doubled in four years and is the highest since 2008-09 when 1257 were caught.

“Our prisons are supposed to be completely secure, yet these figures indicate drug use is increasing in recent years,” added Mr Briggs.

“Detecting and recording these incidents is all well and good but unless the SNP government cracks down on this issue and works with prison authorities to develop new approaches to tackling this problem we will continue to see a rising trend of drug taking in our prisons.”

A charity which works to help rehabilitate prisoners called for more support to help wean them off dangerous drugs and beat addiction.

Jason Moore of The Forward Trust said: “Access to effective, evidence-based drug and alcohol treatment is key to reducing the demand for drugs within the prison population.

“More needs to be done to turn prisoners away from the dealer and towards treatment and recovery.”

The Scottish Government and prison chiefs said work is being done to tackle drug taking in prison.

“Enforcement in prisons is a matter for the Scottish Prison Service and these figures show their efforts to tackle drug taking within prisons is making a difference,” said a Scottish Government spokeswoman.

“In Scotland, drug taking in the general adult population is falling and drug taking levels among young people remain low.

“We have invested over £630 million to tackle problem alcohol and drug use since 2008.

“The vast majority of that investment has directly supported local prevention, treatment and recovery services.”

Tom Fox, of the Scottish Prison Service, said: “Prisons are microcosms of society and drugs are a problem in prisons just as they are in society.

“We spend a lot of time and energy trying to prevent illegal substances coming into prisons and we offer extensive support to people.

“Drugs are a blight on society and we have to cope with them in prisons just as communities also have to cope with them.”