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‘Unsafe’ Lancashire prison hides £40,000 drug trove

21st Apr 2017

A Lancashire jail has been condemned by inspectors as the most violent they have visited in recent times.

The report stated that levels of violence at the “very unsafe” Garth prison, near Leyland, were linked to a major drug problem. £40,000 worth of drugs were recently unearthed along with 350 litres – 616 pints – of alcohol over the Christmas period.

This comes in the wake of a report made by a European human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe’s committee for the prevention of torture, that said none of the prisons assessed in Britain last year could be considered safe or secure for prisoners and staff alike.

The committee also noted that the already “alarmingly high” official figures pertaining to violence in British jails still underestimate the true severity of the situation.

Unfortunately, it is expected that further progress will be halted on the prisons and courts bill, first unveiled by justice secretary Elizabeth Truss, until after the 8th June general election. The bill is said to be the biggest overhaul of British prisons in a generation.

In a report made by Peter Clarke, chief inspector of prisons, on the Garth prison and that of Lancashire jail, it is noted that both had rapidly deteriorated in the last three years. Lancashire jail holds 800 male inmates mainly convicted of serious sexual or violent offences.

During a February inspection, officials found that levels of violence had skyrocketed, fuelled by many drug, gang and debt-related incidents. Around two-thirds of the prisoners told the inspectors they did not feel safe.

Aside from sex offenders, 85 additional prisoners had to be held separately due to fears for their safety. A number of prisoners would not even leave their cells due to the tense and menacing atmosphere pervading the prison corridors.

“The prison was one of the most unsafe we have been to in recent times. Violence and drugs dominated the prisoner experience. A new governor and deputy governor were appointed immediately,” Clarke said.