PRISONERS on Portland have been growing cannabis and building matchstick models to hide items inside, it has been confirmed.

It was claimed that a convicted drug dealer at the Verne prison grew a four-foot plant of the class B drug and passed it off for months as a tomato plant before decorating it as a Christmas tree.

Other allegations claimed that inmates have made matchstick models intending to hide phones inside.

A spokesman for the prison service has confirmed officers have confiscated both items.

Of the matchstick models he said: “Vigilant prison officers at HMP The Verne found two boxes with hidden compartments during a routine cell search.

“They were subsequently removed. This is not a new practice.”

On the discovery of an alleged cannabis plant he said: “Prison officers identified a plant in a cell which they believed to be cannabis. The plant was sent for testing.

“Our comprehensive security measures include: searching cells, using search dogs and mandatory drug testing of prisoners.

“We take the problem of drugs in prisons very seriously and do everything possible to disrupt their demand and supply.”