Justice secretary Jack Straw’s proposals to target drug dependency among prisoners have been given a lukewarm welcome reception by campaigners.
Straw announced the package of measures aimed at reducing reoffending and encouraging rehabilitation of prisoners in parliament yesterday.
Prisons will step up measures to stamp out the supply of drugs, with the introduction of more rigorous searches and increased use of sniffer dogs.
Straw announced an extension of the existing integrated drug treatment system (IDTS) to a further 20 prisons over the next year.
The package will also increase the range of work available inside prison, to boost prisoners’ prospects on release. A new training scheme at HMP Wandsworth will involve several major employers.
Jackie Worrall, director of policy at crime reduction charity Nacro, said “We remain extremely concerned that, like so many initiatives aimed at preventing reoffending, these measures will not be adequately resourced, especially when the Ministry of Justice is under pressure to find budget cuts.”
Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said “The new focus on work is right; but the key to success in bringing down the reoffending rate will be whether ministers are willing and able to reduce the enormous number of people in prison who do not need to be there.”
The Howard League for Penal Reform described the government’s ideas as “simply not radical enough”.
Straw’s announcement came the same day as the House of Lords debated the setting up of a women’s justice board.