Drones are being used to make drug deliveries to inmates at Wandsworth Prison at a rate of at least once a week, a watchdog has revealed as it warned warns illicit substances are easily available and fuelling violence inside the jail.
The Independent Monitoring Board for Wandsworth says there after a lull following some arrests flights into the prison were rising again with “three or four sightings per month” by the end of the period covered in its latest annual report.
It makes no estimate of the number of undetected flights but says that drugs are also being smuggled in by corrupt staff or other methods including “throwovers”, fake legal letters, “passes on visits” and inmates bringing substances in after trips to court.
It warns that the results were that drugs, notably Spice, and alcohol are “easily available across all wings” and causing debt, bullying, violent behaviour and self-harming.
The report also calls into question the effectiveness of promises by minsters to use body scanning technology to detect drugs by disclosing that a Rapiscan machine at the prison used to scan incoming mail and property has been “non-operational for significant periods” over the past year.
It says this was mainly because of technical problems but that “health , safety and resourcing issues” also contributed to the scanner being out of action.
The watchdog says, however, that when it was working and sniffer dogs were also deployed drug finds began to fall as “prisoners became aware of the high detection rate”.
In more positive findings, the report praises staff and the prison governor for working with “skill and imagination” under “immense pressure”.
But it also expresses concerns about the low proportion of prisoners freed being released with a home or job to go and the scale of mental health problems among inmates.
It also criticises the low number of prosecutions for prisoners involved in violence inside the jail, saying that there were only two convictions for the period covered by the report despite 274 attacks on staff and another 326 involving inmates on each other.