Prisoners will be forced to clean up rubbish-strewn jail yards as part of a ‘back to basics’ crackdown.
Prisons minister Rory Stewart is set to boost the number of cell checks, inspections around the perimeter and sniffer dogs. More scanners will also be installed to check visitors for drugs.
The moves will be tested at ten prisons but could be extended to other jails across England and Wales if successful.
HMP Nottingham will be among the first to trial the measures, which will centre on Category B and C prisons.
They follow concerns among ministers that too many prisons are awash with drugs and illicit mobile phones.
Mr Stewart says requiring inmates to clean up jails keeps them busy and out of trouble. It also discourages other prisoners from dropping litter out of windows.
A dossier from the Prison Officers’ Association suggests it is easy for drugs and mobile phones to be smuggled into jails and that some inmates’ cells aren’t checked for months.
The latest official figures show prison officers confiscated 500lb of drugs in England and Wales in 2016 as well as 13,000 mobile phones.
Governors blame drugs for a rise in violence behind bars. On average an assault on officers takes place every hour.
POA leader Steve Gillan said: ‘We’ve gone from security to appeasement – the prisoners are running the show.
‘The public would be outraged if they could see what little was being done. It’s open season for drugs and it’s fuelling the record levels of violence.’
Earlier this year Mr Stewart said if he was unable to tackle drugs in prisons in the next 12 months, ‘I’m not doing my job’. It followed a report by inspectors in January that said conditions in rat-infested HMP Liverpool were the worst they could recall.
HMP Nottingham was put in special measures after a similar report warned it was in a ‘dangerous state’.
The Ministry of Justice said: ‘These plans are at an early stage but the focus will be on improving standards, safety and security.’
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.