Story in full A SCOTTISH jail is so awash with heroin that visitors use it like a "drugs supermarket" and turn up to buy their fix, a court was told yesterday.
Expert witness William Percy said drug users living around Castle Huntly prison, near Dundee, often buy heroin from dealers within the jail.
In a report to Perth Sheriff Court yesterday, Mr Percy said: "Some institutions, such as Castle Huntly, have such an abundance of diamorphine [heroin] that local drug users are entering the grounds to purchase drugs from the inmates."
Clive Fairweather, the former chief inspector of Scotland's prisons, last night blamed the prison service for becoming "soft on drugs" - something they were warned about four years ago.
"The prison service started to allow inmates to use methadone, the heroin substitute. That was a bad idea. They turned their back on the zero-tolerance approach to drugs and this is the result."
Mr Percy's report was presented to the court during the case of Charles Christie - who continued dealing heroin after being locked up on drugs charges.
Christie, 24, from Dundee, was caught dealing heroin while he was being held on remand at Perth Prison awaiting sentence on identical charges.
He has nearly 50 previous convictions for violence, theft and motoring offences, and admitted being concerned in the supply of heroin within Perth Prison on 21 May. He had 28-month and nine-month sentences imposed for drug dealing and yesterday had a further 32 months added to his jail term.
Sheriff Michael Fletcher told him: "You were concerned in the supply of Class A drugs inside the prison, which this court regards as an extremely serious matter.
"The amount of drugs is substantial, particularly for the prison. I have no alternative but to deal with it by way of a custodial sentence."
Mr Percy had been scheduled to give evidence, but his report was presented to the court when Christie pleaded guilty.
The drugs expert explained that heroin now costs the equivalent of one-third of its price a decade ago, despite massive seizures by police across the UK.
Mr Percy, a former Tayside Police, Scottish Crime Squad and National Criminal Intelligence Service officer, said £238 million worth of heroin was recovered during 2000.
"This appears to have had no impact on street values of the drug as they have continued to fall," he explained.
"Taking account of inflation, diamorphine costs in the region of one third of what it did ten years ago."
Mr Percy said the drugs were often smuggled in at admission, thrown over the wall or even supplied by prison staff.
In recent weeks, the same court was told by several prisoners that they absconded to avoid the vast amount of drugs within Castle Huntly.
In one case, solicitor Billy Somerville told the court that putting a drug addict in Castle Huntly was like putting a "child in a sweetie shop".