Birmingham & Black Country

HMP Oakwood: Sixfold increase in prisoners with drugs

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Media captionHMP Birmingham saw drug detections almost double in a year

The number of inmates found with drugs in a West Midlands prison has risen by almost six times, government figures show.

Forty seven prisoners were caught at HMP Oakwood, near Wolverhampton in 2013/14, up from seven in 2012/13.

More than 70 inmates were found with drugs at Birmingham Prison, compared with 38 for the previous year.

G4S, which runs both prisons, said the increase was due to better searches and controls.

Government-run prison Featherstone, near Wolverhampton, has also seen a rise from 20 incidents to 38 over the same period.

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Image caption HMP Oakwood is the UK's largest privately-run prison

In October 2013, a report said Oakwood, the UK's largest privately-run prison, was failing to tackle drugs, which inmates said were easier to obtain than soap.

Last January, staff at Birmingham Prison were offered £500 bonuses, plus expenses, to work at HMP Oakwood following outbreaks of disorder.

Birmingham Prison, which has about 1,400 inmates, was the first jail in the UK to be privatised in 2011.

'Zero tolerance'

The Ministry for Justice released the figures, covering the past four years, following an inquiry by Andrew Griffiths, Conservative MP for Burton, in Staffordshire.

Prisons Minister Andrew Selous said: "Staff at our prisons work hard to keep drugs out of prisons and these figures demonstrate our robust security measures, which include the use of intelligence-led searches and specially-trained sniffer dogs, are working.

"Random drug tests show the numbers testing positive have fallen dramatically over the past 15 years.

"But prisoners should be absolutely clear, we take a zero tolerance approach to drugs and those caught should know they run the risk of seeing time being added to their sentence."

G4S said: "We recognise that drug use in prisons is a constant challenge and we work with the Ministry of Justice and other partners to prevent drugs entering the prison estate and to detect drugs which do make it through the system.

"These figures demonstrate the success of those actions, and is part of the work we're doing to reduce drug supply in prisons, which was praised in the most recent inspector's report at HMP Birmingham."

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