IMB produces scathing report into Sutton's Downview
Drugs are rife in an all female prison, according to a new report.
Inspectors from the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB), that reports back to the Ministry of Justice, say in their primary concern at Downview Prison in Belmont is "the ready availability of illegal drugs."
Members from the IMB were given unrestricted access when they visited some of the 355 prisoners to compile their annual report.
Inspectors concluded there was an "apparent lack of will" to ensure the prison's management- the National Offender Management Service - can tackle the drugs issue effectively.
Among the reasons for this was the removal of prison dogs to save money.
It also found that prisoners released on temporary licence "are not routinely searched on return from daily or weekend release" due to a staff shortages, as well as there not being a working x-ray machine for post coming in.
Inspectors concluded: "Is it any wonder that drugs are easy to come by in the establishment?"
Progress had been made after dogs had been borrowed from another prison, the report notes.
There had been "marked improvements" in the Josephine Butler Unit, a juvenile unit for those aged between 15 and 18.
In 2010 Downview was ranked as the worst female prison for quality of prison life with only 21 per cent of prisoners giving it a rating of six or above, but that had also improved to 43 per cent.
A Prison Service spokesman said: "Last year less than four per cent of prisoners at HMP Downview tested positive for illicit drugs, but we're determined to do more. That’s why we are using drug dogs and x-ray machines to further disrupt the supply of drugs into the prison."