Pubdate: Tue, 8 Jul 2008
Source: Liverpool Echo (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Trinity Mirror North West & North Wales Limited
Author: Ian Hernon
Bookmark: (Cannabis - United Kingdom)
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)
Bookmark: (Heroin)


WALTON jail was today named as the worst in the country for positive
drug tests.

Government ministers spoke of their determination to beat behind-bars
dealing as they revealed the Liverpool institution was twice the
national average over the past three years.

In 2006, the ECHO revealed how pushers were beating security measures
at the prison by hurling fishing wire to contacts outside, then
dragging it back with drugs attached.

Now a new government report into prisons across the country has
announced UKP80m will be spent on new technology, including scanners, to
tackle the problem.

The review suggested that in some cases corrupt prison officers had
been bribed to smuggle in both drugs and mobile phones used by dealers.

And it reported just over one in five of Walton's prisoners tested for
drugs gave positive results.

 From 2004 to April last year 495 out of 2,445 drug tests were
positive, compared with a national average of 10%.

Drug seizures for individual prisons were not given, but nationally
40% was cannabis and 25% heroin.

The new crackdown will include more - and more thorough - searching of
visitors and measures to prevent drug packages being hurled over walls.

There will also be more "closed" visits where plate glass separates
prisoners from visitors. And prison staff will be subject to regular
checks, including examination of bank accounts.

Justice secretary Jack Straw warned corrupt officers would be caught
and jailed.

The government estimates that 55% of prisoners are problem drug users
when jailed, and the prison drug trade undermines both their
detoxification and rehabilitation.

But the Conservatives insisted the new measures were only a small step
in the right direction.

Shadow justice secretary Nick Herbert said: "After 10 years of
failure, with prisons such as Walton awash with drugs, only root and
branch reform will make our prisons clean." 
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