Suicide and drug use among prisons’ missed targets

The Prison Service has failed to meet its targets in seven out
of 18 crucial areas including suicides, drug use and ensuring
prisoners have sufficient purposeful activity, writes
Clare Jerrom.

The number of positive drug tests increased to 12.3 per cent
against a target of 10 per cent and it is the second consecutive
year that the recorded rate of drug use in prison has

According to a Prison Reform Trust report published this week,
the Prison Service is concerned that drug dealing in prisons is
more ‘organised’ and has drastically cut back the
number of offending behaviour programmes to invest in drug

The service failed to meet its Key Performance Indicator on
suicides with 92 prisoners taking their own lives in 2003-4.

It also failed to provide an average of 24 hours a week of
purposeful activity for prisoners. This target has only been met
once in the last nine years and will now be scrapped.

KPIs against overcrowding and serious assaults were also missed
and the report raises concerns over the validity of the data used
to compile them. It highlights that purposeful activity figures can
include time when workshops are closed or classes are cancelled due
to staff shortages.

The report argues that current KPIs do not reflect the diverse
needs of prisoners and urges new indicators to be introduced for
re-offending rates, the distance prisoners are held from their
homes, sentencing planning and time out of cell.

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