New data reveals scale of drug and alcohol finds in Welsh prisons

10 September 2018

Prison

Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre has presented new findings on drugs, alcohol and homelessness to the House of Commons’ Welsh Affairs Committee.

The Committee held an evidence session at the National Assembly in Cardiff as part of its inquiry into prison provision in Wales. The Wales Governance Centre’s Dr Robert Jones was questioned by MPs on the new data and on his previous Imprisonment in Wales Factfile.

The new evidence, which can be read in full here, reveals ongoing challenges within the prison system around drug and alcohol finds, as well as the persistent linkage between homelessness and imprisonment.

Key findings presented to the Committee include:

  • There were 227 alcohol finds in Welsh prisons in 2017.
  • HMP Parc recorded the highest rate of alcohol finds in Wales in 2017.
  • There were more alcohol finds at HMP Parc in 2017 (191) than all other G4S prisons in England and Wales combined (HMP Altcourse, HMP Birmingham, HMP Oakwood, HMP Rye Hill).
  • There was a 475% increase in the number of drugs finds in Welsh prisons during 2013 to 2018. This compares to a 200% increase in English prisons.
  • HMP Swansea had the highest number of drug finds in Wales per 100 prisoners in the year ending March 2018.
  • A quarter of all prisoners presented as homeless entering prison in Wales in 2017.

The Wales Governance Centre continues to undertake its Justice and Jurisdiction project, researching all aspects of the criminal justice system in Wales.

Dr Robert Jones commented: “This new evidence builds on the previous research we have carried out in the Imprisonment in Wales Factfile.

“Drug and alcohol finds within the prison system have been a matter of public and media interest in recent weeks, and the latest data available for Wales suggests that a concerning and challenging set of circumstances has emerged within the prisons system.

“Agencies and organisations within the criminal justice system will now be considering how to address these challenges. It is likely that given its commitment to reduce homelessness and tackle substance misuse, the Welsh Government will be taking a keen interest in this data and the prison system in Wales, which is the responsibility of the UK Government.”

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