Prison praised for drug efforts

A PRISONS chief today praised efforts at a Suffolk jail to free prisoners from the clutches of drug addiction.Hollesley Bay open prison has developed courses to help its prisoners learn how to live without drugs and the programme has been hailed by the man in charge of the region's 12 prisons.

A PRISONS chief today praised efforts at a Suffolk jail to free prisoners from the clutches of drug addiction.

Hollesley Bay open prison has developed courses to help its prisoners learn how to live without drugs and the programme has been hailed by the man in charge of the region's 12 prisons.

Danny McAllister, HM Prison Service's area manager for the eastern region, said the prison's new Hartsmere Unit was a step forward in the battle to reduce the number of prisoners who find themselves back in jail because of drugs.

With help from experienced counsellors, prisoners taking part in Hollesley Bay's short duration drug programme attend sessions every day for four weeks to identify the reasons for their addictions and how to avoid slipping back into a life marred by drugs on their release from prison.

The programme was launched at the beginning of last year and has sought to help prisoners to understand the effects of their addiction.

In officially launching the unit on Friday and hearing from prisoners about its successes, Mr McAllister said: “I wish we didn't have to have a Hartesmere Unit or a Hollesley Bay prison but we do.”

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The prison is also cracking down on inmates found to have been using drugs whilst at Hollesley Bay.

Between five and ten per cent of prisoners are tested each month and the government's target is to reduce the number of prisoners found to have taken drugs to 12 per cent. Currently 14.5 pc of prisoners tested are found to have used drugs.

Mr McAllister said: “We had a terrible start to the year at Hollesley. Of the five pc tested 29 pc tested positive.

“Hollesley Bay is one of the few places in the eastern area that isn't meeting its target and that is because it's an open prison.

“The crucial work is to wean people off the dependence on drugs.

“We have driven drugs down enormously across the area by a huge effort. If you're found with drugs here you're punished.”

Weblink: www.hmprisonservice.gov.uk

MARK was using “pretty much everything” including hard drugs like heroin and crack cocaine when he was jailed for dealing.

After serving his time and with a release date due this week, he said he is terrified about the prospect of falling back into a life of drugs and crime.

To stop that happening he signed up for the four-week course at Hollesley Bay and said: “They give you tools so you can have a chance to deal with things like stopping and thinking before you do things.

“I'm terrified about getting out because I know what is coming. I don't have a place to stay but if I want to find somewhere to stay I can find loads of places but they're all places where people are using.”

Mark, 41, first went to prison when he was 21 and said if there had been courses then like the one he just finished at Hollesley he may not have slipped back into a life of drugs on his release.

He said the first thing he did after being released in the past was to buy a pack of syringes so that he could inject drugs. Now all his efforts are directed at staying away from drugs.

He said: “After doing the course I've got a good attitude and I feel strong.

“I did it to give myself a chance and learn how to think differently. If I came in here 20 years ago and they'd have had courses like this things may have been different.”

Jason, 21, said it was alcohol which played a large part in being sent to jail for three-and-a-half years.

He said: “I used to drink a lot. I used to drink to give me confidence.

“During the course we identified our high risk situations, the situations which would tempt us again.

“Now I've got confidence without alcohol. I just don't want to drink.”