An increased use of so-called “legal highs” in prisons is causing a rise in levels of violence, a report has warned. That’s right, prisoners are able (somehow) to get legally high in prison.The raft of newly formulated synthetic drugs are psychoactive and have been blamed for a number of serious assaults.
The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) said their use was linked to an increase in “disturbed and disruptive behaviour” by prisoners.
Its annual report said the drugs also appeared to be generating increased levels of debt within prisons as well as heightened levels of intimidation. One such drug, called Spice, is said to be 100 times more powerful than cannabis and has been linked to psychotic episodes, seizures and heart attacks.
In a bid to crackdown on their use, the Serious Crime Act 2015 introduced a new offence of throwing items over a prison wall – a common way of introducing contraband to convicts.
Steve Gillan, general secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association said the increased use of such drugs was a “real problem” for a system that was already at breaking point. He said that a 37 per cent rise in attacks on staff in the last year could be partly attributed to drug use.
“It alters people’s state of mind and is making prisoners more powerful as they get an increased strength from it,” he said.
“There have been some horrific serious assaults. It is leading to an increase in violence both on each other and on staff. There have even been two incidents when it has made officers ill because prisoners were smoking it.”
Imagine that, a terrible state of affairs, which makes it all the more amazing that any prisoner could get away with running a drug empire directly from the limited comfort of his prison cell,and yet courtesy of Serco prison services, one did.
The Daily Post asked the Ministry of Justice, North Wales Police and private security firm Serco how Paul Williams was able to run his empire while serving time at HMPs Dovegate and Altcourse.They all declined to comment.
Judge Niclas Parry, who sentenced Williams to a 19-year stretch, branded it a “scandal” and wrote to the Home Secretary to find out how Williams was able to continue offending. He’s still waiting for an answer.
Williams was observed by police intelligence analysts making 295 phone calls and messages in one day.
Much of Williams’ time behind bars, when he was still running his empire, was at HMP Dovegate in Staffordshire, privately run by Serco.
Michael Guy, Serco’s director at HMP Dovegate, said: “An intelligence-led search of Mr Williams’ cell was carried out at HMP Dovegate in November and uncovered two mobile phones.
“We welcome this sentence which sends a clear message that we are committed to intercepting and seizing mobile phones.”
Smack my head, face-palm, because whilst in possession of the two said phones, this is what Mr Williams was able to get away with, the supply of heroin, cocaine, herbal cannabis, cannabis, amphetamine and mephedrone.
Here are the stats on police Operation (Special) Measures detailing the extent of Mr Williams prison bound criminal activities.
The number of arrests made across the north west of England and North Wales as part of the investigation
The number of defendants charged with drug-related offences
The number of different police units which took part in the operation
The number of phone numbers captured, filtered down to identify 186 phone numbers attributed to 32 defendants
Cash seized by North Wales Police over the course of their investigation
Street value of cocaine, heroin and other drugs seized and destroyed by police
Now if the Serco run prison, HMP Deerbolt, had been doing its job properly none of this would have been necessary. The police would have been spared a great deal of expense (#CutsHave Consequences don’t you know!). And nobody, not the police, not Williams probation officer and certainly not the judges, would be scratching their heads over how a convicted drug dealer locked in a 12 foot by 9 foot prison cell, could possibly have been committing the same offences he was imprisoned for… from the security of a prison.