Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Moorland Prison: Legal highs 'threaten stability'

Flag outside Moorland Prison
Image caption The facility, which is now a resettlement jail, houses 1,000 prisoners, with about 250 foreign national offenders and 340 sex offenders

Inspectors are warning the availability of so-called legal highs at a South Yorkshire prison is "severely threatening" the stability of the jail.

A report into HMP Moorland said almost half of all prisoners claimed it was easy to get drugs compared to 28% at the last inspection.

Inspectors said the availability of new psychoactive substances (NPS) was undermining recent progress.

Prison bosses said more work needed to be done to tackle the problem.

The report follows an unannounced inspection of the prison, near Hatfield Woodhouse, in February.

'Idleness and despair'

It found the number of violent incidents, fights and assaults had increased since the last inspection in 2012 and levels were also higher than at similar prisons.

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Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons, said: "There are real opportunities at Moorland to make progress, but the issues of NPS... have such a negative impact on prisoners' experiences.

"In particular, there is a real opportunity to make progress in embracing the prison's new role as a resettlement prison, and in delivering treatment programmes for sex offenders."

Responding to the report, Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service, said: I am pleased that the inspector has highlighted the real progress being made at Moorland in purposeful activity as well as successfully introducing and managing sex offenders."

He said: "We are not complacent about safety and there is clearly more work to do to address levels of violence and tackle increasing availability of NPS at the prison."

A spokesperson for the Howard League for Penal Reform said: "The report uncovers a number of problems, not least the reality that one-in-three prisoners has nothing to do during the working day.

"People turn to drugs when faced with idleness and despair."

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