Report raises concern over increase in drugs use at HMP/YOI Portland

Report raises concern over increase in drugs use at HMP/YOI Portland

Report raises concern over increase in drugs use at HMP/YOI Portland

First published in News Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

A REPORT on HMP/YOI Portland has raised concerns that mixing adult prisoners and young offenders has led to an increase in the trade of drugs.

The Independent Monitoring Board has just released its latest report which covers the year up until March 31, 2014.

The report praises the HMP/ YOI’s resilience in a ‘period of rapid and significant changes,’ including ‘the continuation of the changeover to becoming a local and resettlement prison, the introduction of adults, the change to New Ways of Working and the core day as well as financial stringency and a period of disruption due to major works on the site’.

Staff and management were praised for their hard work especially with regard to resettlement, a decrease in the number of cell-smashing incidents after financial penalties were introduced, a new working day regime, improved facilities for fresh air and exercise and more drug and alcohol interventions.

Officers’ positive attitudes and ability to adapt to the changes were praised. The IMB said they recognised the workload of the reduced number of uniformed staff was greater and more stressful.

The report noted many areas of concern, although it said many issues could not be solved by the HMP/YOI Portland in isolation.

The report said that many adults and young offenders had to go without regular formal activities at workshops or in education and therefore spent much of their time locked up.

The IMB said: “The board remains worried about the impact of the change of categorisation, which has meant that more than half the population are now adults, many of them sophisticated criminals.”

The report said this had led to an influx of drugs, tradable ‘legal’ substances and other associated illegal objects.

The IMB added: “Trading of these substances and of illegal drugs led to debt and bullying, both of which appear to have increased during the year.”

While commending the YOI for becoming a resettlement prison, the report questioned why Portland is not a resettlement prison for Dorset prisoners but rather for those from Avon and Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.

In the policy matters for ministers section, the IMB report said: “The board would question whether the prison could continue to function humanely and efficiently at even the most basic level, if there are further financial cuts.

“Do Ministers accept the paradox whereby Dorset resettlement prisoners are allocated to Channings Wood, Exeter and Winchester instead of to Portland and will they instruct the prison service to address the matter?”

An MOJ spokesperson said the facility had been transformed into a resettlement prison so family ties could be maintained, therefore helping to rehabilitate offenders and providing an incentive to stay out of prison.

He said: “We have also made it clear that the use of illicit substances will not be tolerated, and use a range of measures to find them, including searches and specially trained dogs.”

Recruitment day held for YOI

EARLIER this month the YOI held a recruitment day to gain more staff to help provide purposeful activity.

Staff said they were looking for people who wanted to make a difference to people’s lives.

Following a recent inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP), which highlighted more purposeful activity was needed, YOI staff told the Echo they had already put steps in place to tackle this, including launching the recruitment drive.

Speaking at the time of the recruitment initiative, Governor James Lucas, said: “The YOI is in a time of change. As of today we have 400 adult prisoners and 173 young adults. There’s been a fundamental shift in the area of prisoners coming in.”

As of the beginning of August, 63 per cent of the men are in work or training – 200 work in the kitchens, laundry, recycling and workshops and around 150 are doing courses with Weston College. Staff said that once the new instructors are in place that will increase the activity places by up to 200.

The Echo got to see the workshops and how the YOI works with businesses to provide work and training, including working with a vacuum cleaner firm to create parts for their products and creating biofuel from cardboard. Other courses include woodworking, painting and decorating, agriculture, cooking, construction and bricklaying.

Comments (5)

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10:25am Wed 27 Aug 14

rbdeejay says...

Drugs in prison? Shocker!
Drugs in prison? Shocker! rbdeejay
  • Score: -2

10:46am Wed 27 Aug 14

Techie says...

As usual the Echo do not tell us where this report can be found - it's here for those who wish to read it: http://www.justice.g
ov.uk/publications/c
orporate-reports/imb
/annual-reports-2014
As usual the Echo do not tell us where this report can be found - it's here for those who wish to read it: http://www.justice.g ov.uk/publications/c orporate-reports/imb /annual-reports-2014 Techie
  • Score: 1

6:57pm Wed 27 Aug 14

Rocksalt says...

It will be interesting to see if the forthcoming Prison Inspectorate report shares the IMBs positive assessment of certain aspects.

As an aside, the use of Exeter may be an issue, but Winchester is easier to get to than Portland for families of prisoners from Bournemouth. And I suspect that the majority of Dorset prisoners are from the Bournemouth conurbation
It will be interesting to see if the forthcoming Prison Inspectorate report shares the IMBs positive assessment of certain aspects. As an aside, the use of Exeter may be an issue, but Winchester is easier to get to than Portland for families of prisoners from Bournemouth. And I suspect that the majority of Dorset prisoners are from the Bournemouth conurbation Rocksalt
  • Score: 0

7:01pm Wed 27 Aug 14

every user name was taken says...

When I worked in the works department of a Portland prison we would often find burnt tin foil flushed down the toilets, It would be reported to staff. You could walk on the landings and smell the grass, no one ever did anything about it as it would cause paperwork and disrupt the harmony of the landing. The prison staff turn a blind eye.
When I worked in the works department of a Portland prison we would often find burnt tin foil flushed down the toilets, It would be reported to staff. You could walk on the landings and smell the grass, no one ever did anything about it as it would cause paperwork and disrupt the harmony of the landing. The prison staff turn a blind eye. every user name was taken
  • Score: -2

11:31pm Wed 27 Aug 14

norosetintedglasses says...

Who would want to work there. I did. One Instructor, alone, for 10-12 inmates all day. If you were lucky an officer might check on your welfare. You were held responsible for everything with no support and very little interest from management. Most inmates are not interested in learning but just having time out of cells, which is all the management is interested in.
Prison discipline has disappeared so staff so staff turn a blind eye because nothing happens when they try to enforce discipline.
Who would want to work there. I did. One Instructor, alone, for 10-12 inmates all day. If you were lucky an officer might check on your welfare. You were held responsible for everything with no support and very little interest from management. Most inmates are not interested in learning but just having time out of cells, which is all the management is interested in. Prison discipline has disappeared so staff so staff turn a blind eye because nothing happens when they try to enforce discipline. norosetintedglasses
  • Score: 2
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