HMP Lowdham Grange: Drug use by prisoners 'a concern'

Lowdham Grange prison Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption HMP Lowdham Grange is a Category B prison which holds up to 920 men

Inmates abusing prescription drugs and using psychoactive substances remains "a concern", a report has found.

The report by the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) into HMP Lowdham Grange said mandatory monthly drug tests on prisoners find traces of drugs in up to 20% of results.

Some inmates also committed "acts of serious indiscipline" to "seek refuge" from drug debts.

But the report said a new scanning machine had "disrupted" drug supplies.

The IMB said psychoactive substances such as Spice posed a threat to the health of prisoners, and a challenge to staff when maintaining order at the Category B jail.

"Violent behaviour can result in a threat to other prisoners and staff while the psychosis induced in others can cause long-term damage to mental health," the report, which covers February 2018 to January 2019, said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The IMB report said some prisoners had committed "acts of serious indiscipline" to "seek refuge" from drug debts

After a Rapiscan machine was first used in April 2018 to scan mail sent to prisoners, more than 100 finds were made each month, which the report said has now dropped to 50 to 60 finds.

The IMB also addressed a number of disturbances at the Nottinghamshire jail last year, including three outbreaks of violence in less than a fortnight last summer.

It said one incident saw prisoners take control of a wing "when two inexperienced officers on duty withdrew when faced with threatening behaviour", but said its members who had been called to the scene "observed appropriate behaviour by all staff with no use of inappropriate restraint".

The violent outbreaks "have been unusual at Lowdham Grange over recent years", the report found, adding its board members "were impressed by the professional approach to the management of each incident".

Mark Hanson - Serco's prison director at Lowdham Grange - said: "We are pleased the report recognises prisoners are treated fairly, humanely and benefit from good facilities.

"We also note the areas for development and we are addressing these."

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