HMP Ford: 100% increase in the number of drugs finds

The Ministry of Justice told The Argus that it will invest £100 million to bolster security, including new X-ray body scanners and drug dogs.

THE amount of drugs at an open prison has risen by almost 100 per cent because prisoners are “bored” during the Covid pandemic, a report found.

Inmates at HMP Ford are said to be using more illegal substances since the start of the coronavirus crisis, according to a prison watchdog.

The Ministry of Justice told The Argus that it will invest £100 million to bolster security, including new X-ray body scanners and drug dogs.

There were a total of 183 drug finds, which is almost 100 per cent increase on the previous year when there were 94.

Cannabis remains the “most popular” drug amongst inmates, the Independent Monitoring Board said.

The Argus: The wartime billets were used to house two prisoners

The wartime billets were used to house two prisoners

There was also a 17 per cent rise in the number of mobile phones found, with 365 devices discovered compared to 312 the previous year.

The discovery of alcohol also went up from eight to 23.

The report read: “No pattern has emerged as to the type of drugs used though cannabis remains the most popular.

“Anecdotally prisoners have told us that the increase in drug use is largely due to boredom under lockdown.

“The discovery of alcohol has risen from 8 finds to 23, almost a threefold increase year on year.

“There were 183 drugs finds, which is almost 100 per cent increase on the previous year when there were 94 finds.”

The Independent Monitoring Board inspects whether jails are “humane” and if inmates are receiving “just treatment”.

A visit was carried out to HMP Ford in West Sussex, three miles from the historic town of Arundel.

The resulting report revealed the prison’s accommodation was in a “parlous state” and “certainly not decent or humane”.

HMP Ford was converted to an open prison in 1960 from a former Fleet Air Arm station.

It has an operational capacity of 544, however, during the pandemic, this has been reduced by between 20 and 30 prisoners to enable new inmates to self-isolate.

The Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “We are spending £100 million to bolster prison security, clamping down on the weapons, drugs and mobile phones that fuel violence and crime behind bars.

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