HMP Bullingdon violence caused by Spice drug, say inspectors

HMP Bullingdon Image copyright Google
Image caption HM Chief Inspector of Prisons said the use of Spice was "a serious threat, leading to debt and bullying" inside HMP Bullingdon

The use of the so-called legal high Spice inside an Oxfordshire prison is leading to violence, inspectors found.

HMP Bullingdon also has "significant" staff shortages as well as being overcrowded, with 27% more prisoners than its normal accommodation level.

The chief inspector of prisons said it meant more inmates felt unsafe than during the previous inspection.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said the prison's drug strategy had been revamped.

The use of so-called legal highs has been a factor in at least 19 prisoner deaths between 2012 and 2014, the Prisons and Probations Ombudsman revealed in July.

At HMP Bullingdon, near Bicester, two drug dog handlers have now been employed and more searches are being carried out, an MoJ spokesman added.

Michael Spurr, chief executive of the National Offender Management Service, said since the inspection 20 new members of staff have also been recruited.

Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption 'Legal highs' such as Spice are causing problems in a number of prisons because they are hard to detect

Spice facts

Spice is a synthetic cannabinoid made to simulate the effects of cannabis

It is either a solid or an oil that can be added to dried herbs, vegetable matter or plant cuttings to make a smoking mixture

These are often professionally packaged in small, colourful sachets with labels describing the contents as incense or herbal smoking mixture

Experts are concerned that Spice has the potential to be more harmful than cannabis because of its higher strength

A large number of synthetic cannabinoids and any mixtures that contains them are illegal Class B drugs

Earlier this year Spice was blamed for the admission to hospital of five students at Lancaster University

Source: Frank

He said some inmates were thought to have been given "spiked" cigarettes by others wanting to test out new drugs.

Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons, said the use of Spice was "a serious threat, leading to debt and bullying" inside HMP Bullingdon.

"There was no effective prison-wide strategy to reduce the supply of drugs," he said.

He noted the mandatory tests taken by prisoners were not able to detect the drug.

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