Testing prisoners for psychoactive substances

Part of Prisons and Courts Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 3:00 pm ar 29 Mawrth 2017.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Yasmin Qureshi Yasmin Qureshi Shadow Minister (Justice) 3:00, 29 Mawrth 2017

The Opposition support my hon. Friend’s new clause. It is important that prison officers should be able to work in a safe environment and have the right to know if they are being exposed to any infectious diseases.

Before I sit down for the last time today, I want to make a brief observation about clause 22 and the proposal to simplify the legislation so that testing can be done for all drugs. Testing alone is not an adequate response to the problem of drugs and psychoactive substances in prisons. Although it is important, it can only be of limited value because not all prisoners can be tested regularly; far greater resources would have to be provided.

The Prison Reform Trust has said that testing can be partial, but must be intelligence-led. The Howard League states that,

“drug testing alone does little to reduce drug use in prisons. Recent HMIP reports have found that overcrowding and a shortage of officers mean that intelligence-led drug tests often do not take place.”

Testing must therefore be intelligence-led. Again, that requires greater resources than are available at present.