Concerns over number of gang members inside a Doncaster prison with vast majority of ex-inmates saying jail has big drug problem

A vast majority of former inmates released from a Doncaster prison said there was a problem with drugs and concerns have been raised around the number of gang members who are locked up inside.

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 10:52 am
HMP Lindholme

A report published by the Independent Monitoring Board looked at the conditions and working operations of HMP Lindholme, just outside Hatfield Woodhouse between January 2020 and February 2021.

The inspectors raised a number of concerns which included:

Nearly 20 per cent of the prison population are linked to criminal gangs Geography of the prison makes it hard to defend from drugs coming into site Strong Hooch being made onsite was a problem Over 80 per cent surveyed said the prison had a drug problem Inmates locked up for 23 hours a day due to Covid-19 restrictions but raised concerns about overcrowding in some cells.

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The report details that nearly a fifth of the prison population are members of an organised criminal gang but numbers have fallen from 200 to around 170 since the last inspection.

Inspectors said substance misuse ‘continued to be a problem’ and the geography of HMP Lindholme, with a lengthy perimeter fence to defend along with the large proportion of prisoners linked to OCGs, ‘works to the detriment of effective control of drug use’.

But they added that the prison has introduced a ‘number of measures’ to improve securityand due to prisoners being confined to their cells for up to 23 hours per day, the number of under the influence incidents has dropped from 659 last year to 248 this year.

Hooch continues to be a problem with 270 finds throughout the year. In the survey carried out by the prison of men being released in December 2020, 83 per cent agreed there is a drugs issue in the prison.

A third said the issue could be reduced by searching both prisoners and staff and a further 20 per cent thought that an increased use of search dogs would reduce the problem.

In the survey carried out for the HMIP report of October 2020, about one third of prisoners considered it easy to obtain illicit drugs.

Inspectors also raised concerns that the ‘overcrowding, poor ventilation and lack of privacy curtains’ in some of these cells is detrimental to prisoners, particularly during the present pandemic.

They added that prisoners were having to ‘perform their bodily functions’ in front of each other and was described as an ‘affront to basic human dignity’.

Incidents of violence reduced from 227 to 93 which was linked to inmates being in cells for long periods of the day.

There were 401 reports of inmates self-harming but this was down from 602 on the previous year.

“On the whole, prisoners felt safe in the prison; however, the Board remains concerned about the high percentage of OCG prisoners linked to organised crime.

“While the number of incidents of self-harm have reduced this year, we are concerned that the majority of the incidents were by men cutting themselves.

“Substance misuse continues to be a significant concern and more than 80 per cent ofprisoners released during December 2020 considered that there is a drugs issue in theprison.”

A Prison Service spokesman from the Ministry of Justice, said: “Drug use is down at Lindholme and we are investing millions on better security including X-ray body scanners.

“Our decisive action during the pandemic ultimately saved thousands of lives.”

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In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.