Downview Prison report: Drugs 'readily available'

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A women's prison in Surrey has been criticised in a report for the "ready availability" of illegal drugs.

The report by the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) said up to 50 of the Downview inmates were suspected of being suppliers, carriers or users.

The IMB also said the National Offender Management Service had shown "an apparent lack of will" to ensure prison managers could tackle the issue.

The Ministry of Justice said it was determined to do more.

'Dogs and X-rays'

A drug reduction strategy has been devised at the 350-plus inmate jail, but the IMB was not convinced, given a lack of resources, that the measures would be "routinely and relentlessly applied", the report said.

The IMB recognised some progress had been made at the jail near Banstead, but was concerned the activity would be short-lived, it added.

In a statement, the Ministry of Justice said: "About 4% of prisoners at HMP Downview tested positive for illicit drugs, but we're determined to do more."

It said staff were using drug dogs and X-ray machines to disrupt the supply of drugs into the jail and could also call on specially-trained dog handlers.

Inmates caught with drugs in the jail in Sutton Lane faced disciplinary action and possible police action, it added.

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