FMQs: Sturgeon must act to cut down prison drugs supply

FMQs: Sturgeon must act to cut down prison drugs supply

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At FMQs Nicola Sturgeon was urged to cut down on the supply of drugs in Scotland’s prisons.

Douglas Ross called for an end to the “shocking” situation where prison officers are having to hand drug-contaminated items back to prisoners as they leave jail.

The operating procedures that prison officers must stick to say that prisoners have the option to have items contaminated with drugs safely stored and returned to them on their release.

Douglas Ross highlighted Scottish Prison Service documents that show there have been over 2,200 incidents of prisoners misusing government-bought phones, which are regularly used to deal drugs in prisons. He said those phones must be removed immediately.

The Scottish Conservative Leader also asked why the government didn’t listen earlier to Scottish Conservative proposals to prevent drugs being smuggled into prisons through the mail.

Russell Findlay MSP had raised the issue with the government five times over two months. Finally, this week, SNP Justice Secretary Keith Brown committed to the Scottish Conservative proposals to prevent drug-soaked mail reaching prisons.

Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross said: 

“Scotland has the highest drug death rate in Europe. Every solution should be considered to tackle this crisis – and they should be considered urgently.

“It’s unacceptable that it took 10 overdoses this weekend in one prison for the government to accept Scottish Conservative proposals to cut down on the supply of drugs in prisons.

“The Scottish Conservatives brought forward these proposals repeatedly but the SNP stalled instead of acting quickly.

“Nicola Sturgeon says that her government is treating our drugs crisis seriously yet the response from SNP ministers was to trivialise concerns with flippant comments.

“It’s shocking that prison officers are having to hand drugs back to prisoners as they leave jail. The First Minister can’t just look at this, she must act to stop the practice immediately.

“The SNP are making it harder for prison officers to do their job. Scottish Prison Service documents show there have been over 2,200 incidents of prisoners misusing phones. These government-bought phones have been abused for criminal activity and they must be removed from Scotland’s prisons now.

“The government has taken its eye off the ball on Scotland’s drug deaths scandal for too long. It finally has to start treating this crisis with the urgency it deserves.”

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