Prison chiefs have been left red-faced after it emerged illegal drugs are being sent to inmates - in the post.
A report revealed lax checks allowed prisoners to receive narcotics - including heroin substitute Subutex - in the mail at HMP New Hall in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.
Inspectors criticised security measures at the prison and Young Offenders Institution, which holds nearly 400 women and girls.
They said some mail room staff lacked an awareness of drug security. "Test results and finds indicated Subutex as the drug most used. The main route into the prison was through the mail. Staff believed that mail was a particularly vulnerable area and there had been eight finds in mail in one month."
Despite the problem, only nine prisoners were searched for drugs in one three month period, the report found.
There had been seven heads of security in only three years, undermining efforts to tackle the drug problem, inspectors said.
A survey of prisoners found only 10% said it was difficult to buy drugs, while 41% said it was easy. More than half of prisoners had a drug problem when they came to prison, and 10% said they developed one while inside. The report said the programme to tackle drug abuse was "disjointed and lacked leadership".
A Prison Service spokesman said the number of seizures revealed search procedures were "robust and effective".
He said: "The number of drug seizures at HMP New Hall make clear that its search procedures are robust, effective and are making a difference in disrupting the supply of drugs into the prison. We take the issue of drugs in prison very seriously, and will seek the conviction of any individual attempting to smuggle drugs, or any other banned item, into prison. Prisoners who break the rules will be subject to disciplinary procedures.
"Subutex (or buprenorphine) is a very effective drug used in the treatment of heroin withdrawal. Any buprenorphine prescribed in prison is given under strictly supervised conditions, however we are well aware of the increase in its illicit misuse and have taken measures to tackle it."
Source - http://uk.news.yahoo.com/21/20090528/tuk-prisoners-received-drugs-in-post-6323e80.html