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Violence and drug use fall in £10m jail pilot scheme

THE prisons minister yesterday hailed a £10million pilot scheme that has helped cut assaults and drug use in ten of England’s toughest jails.

Lucy Frazer said she was ‘encouraged’ by the results of the 10 Prisons Project, introduced by her predecessor Rory Stewart (pictured).

Positive drug tests fell by roughly half between last August, when the scheme was launched, and March this year, according to Ministry of Justice figures.

The rate of assaults dropped by almost 16 per cent from the three months up to August last year to the latest quarter up to June, the data shows. Measures including new scanners, sniffer dogs and repairs to basic infrastructure were introduced under the pilot at Hull, Humber, Leeds, Lindholme, Moorland, Wealstun, Nottingham, Ranby, Isis and Wormwood Scrubs prisons.

Two of the prisons — Nottingham and Wormwood Scrubs — saw more assaults, while the rate at Hull remained roughly the same.

Last week, Boris Johnson announced £100million to boost security and cut crime in prisons. And Ms Frazer said the 10 Prisons Project would help shape how the money is spent. ‘We are already using what has worked to improve the rest of the estate, spending £100 million on airport-style security to stop the scourge of mobile phones and drugs that fuel crime and disorder,’ she said.

However, the charity Inquest, which provides expertise on state-related deaths, said the inmate death rate within the ten prisons had risen from 34 in the 12 months before the project was launched to 41 in the 11 months since.

Director Deborah Coles said: ‘The 10 Prisons Project was fundamentally flawed in its scope and analysis.

‘It was a complacent, simplistic response to a complex problem. It was not about safety, but about security and control. It abjectly failed to guaranteed the health and safety of prisoners.’