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Inmates hospitalised seven times in six months after taking banned legal highs

The report found drug testing did not reveal the banned legal highs Credit: PA

Inmates at Bristol prison were admitted to hospital seven times over six-months after taking banned legal high Spice, it has been revealed.

A report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons found that a mandatory drug testing regime did not detect Spice, a synthetic drug used to imitate the effects of cannabis.

It is believed to have become one of the main drugs of choice inside the jail.

The Inspectorate praised Bristol Prison for making considerable progress but says significant concerns still remain.

They found the most serious issue identified at the prison was the level of violence, which was much higher than in similar prisons.

The availability of legal highs such as Spice was a problem, as found elsewhere in the prison system. In the last six months there has been seven Spice-related emergency admissions to hospital.

– HM Inspectorate of Prisons


Dorset Police Commissioner's dismay at prison closure

I am disappointed and dismayed with the Justice Secretary’s decision to close HMP Dorchester. Only six weeks ago, we welcomed the decision to designate HMP Dorchester as a resettlement prison for the county’s offenders. It would have allowed us to support the rehabilitation of offenders back into the local community and to reduce incidents of reoffending.

I am concerned that this decision will have a negative impact on the county’s ability to proactively work with partners to rehabilitate offenders. It will also impact on future opportunities in restorative justice which provides insight to offenders on the impact of their crime whilst giving control back to victims.

I will be writing to the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling to express my dismay at his decision and will be lobbying the government for clarity around future resettlement arrangements for Dorset in light of this decision."

– Martyn Underhill, Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner

Full report: Changes to West Country prisons

It's been confirmed that Dorchester Prison is to close and discussions are underway to end the lease at Dartmoor Prison.

Elsewhere, Portland's Verne Prison will be turned into an immigration detention centre.

The former Victorian military barracks, transformed into a jail more than 60 years ago, will become a Home Office immigration unit housing people waiting to be removed from the UK.

Duncan Sleightholme reports:


Work to close prison will begin 'immediately'

The Ministry of Justice said work to close HMP Dorchester will begin immediately and it is expected to shut close at the end of the year.

Everything will be done to avoid compulsory redundancies and our intention is for all staff to be redeployed to alternative roles in the prison estate or, if necessary, offered the opportunity to leave on voluntary terms.

Offenders housed at Dorchester will be moved to other suitable prison accommodation.

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