Ulster Unionist MLA Tom Elliott has called for robust action to be taken to reduce the availability of drugs in local prisons.
Mr Elliott, who is his Party’s Justice spokesperson, was speaking following the findings of a Prison Ombudsman’s report that “a more robust and consistent approach to tackling the supply of illicit substances and associated bullying is needed” and following claims by one solicitor that Maghaberry Prison is “awash with drugs.”
Mr Elliott said:
“It is essential that Prison authorities are given the resources and staffing they require to ensure that illegal drugs are not smuggled into our prisons.
Questions also have to be asked with regard to how some prescription drugs which are given to prisoners for quite legitimate purposes, are then traded with other prisoners for illegal substances.
Part of the problem is no doubt due to the fact that the number of those in prison for drugs offences is significantly higher than in the wider population, and therefore these individuals are more likely to wish to avail of drugs inside prison, just as they would if they were on the outside.
Prison staff are already under a great deal of pressure in our jails as they carry out their duties in what are extremely difficult circumstances. If we are serious about tackling the drugs trade in our prisons then we have to provide the staff with the support they require to stop drugs getting in.”