Drug and debt concerns at HMP Peterborough

Drug issues remain a concern at HMP Peterborough, inspectors have found.

Thursday, 5th September 2019, 7:00 am
HMP Peterborough

The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) for the privately run city jail said illegal drugs were ‘readily available’ on the male wing, leading to ‘disturbing levels of drug misuse, violence and debt.’

However, the report said that overall violence had started to fall.

HMP Peterborough, which is run by Sodexo, is the only jail in the country with both a male and a female wing, and the report said the women’s wing holds an increasing number of prisoners with complex needs, which places a strain on staff and fellow prisoners.

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There were also concerns about accommodation for released prisoners, with just under one third of male prisoners (32 per cent) and more than one in three female inmates (36 per cent) having no suitable housing when they leave the jail.

But despite the concerns, Pauline Davidson, IMB Chair, said the prison ‘remained well run.’ She said: “To the credit of those working there, HMP

Peterborough remains a well-run prison.

“The Board welcomes progress made, especially in violence reduction initiatives and measures to combat the availability of illicit substances.”

To tackle the problem with drugs, the report said the jail had introduced new scanning methods to prevent inmates getting access to substances.

The report said: “Security is proactive, and searches and other means of disrupting supply are intelligence led. At the end of January, use of a body scanner in reception, when intelligence indicates concern, was introduced. A scanner for detecting illicit substances in incoming mail was also introduced during this year. Introduction of a dedicated regimes team has led to improved control of mass movement and attendance at appointments and scheduled activities.”

Improvements in the standard of accommodation in the male side of the prison was also praised, with cleanliness being addressed by the introduction of new cleaning schedules. However, it ‘still falls short of what is expected, with dirty floors and showers mentioned repeatedly in IMB wing monitoring reports.’

The prison was also praised for its work to reduce self harm on the women’s wing by 10 per cent over the past year.

Damian Evans, director at HMP Peterborough, said: “We welcome the IMB Annual Report and are pleased that we have been recognised as a well-run prison, where prisoners are treated fairly and with respect, and that our continued efforts to reduce violence have been commended. This is testament to our staff and the professional job they do in challenging circumstances.

“Along with other local prisons in the country, HMP Peterborough continues to face challenges around the presence of drugs, particularly psychoactive substances, and reducing drug supply remains an operational priority. New detection technology has recently been introduced together with a range of additional security measures.

“We work hard to reintegrate segregated prisoners at HMP Peterborough, and although some cases are challenging we work well with other prisons in the region to find places for those who need to be transferred.”