• Nick Smith

The Minister of Corrections Nick Smith today launched, at Paparua Prison, the Department of Corrections' national drug testing programme.

"Drug testing inmates will make a significant difference in reducing the problem of drugs in prisons and making them a safer place. There is no doubt in my mind that drugs in prisons are extremely disruptive, lead to the bullying of other inmates and contribute to re-offending. This programme is a step towards getting drugs out of our prisons".

The programme will randomly test all inmates serving a sentence of 30 days or more. It will also target inmates returning from temporary release and those inmates who are found to be guilty of a disciplinary offence related to alcohol and drugs. Inmates who test positive face a tough regime of measures including restrictions on visits, possible upgrading of their security classification, tougher work and temporary parole considerations.

"Drugs in our prisons are a major problem and I am determined to stamp them out. It is estimated that 70 percent of inmates have had a drug dependency problem at some time, and for some of them, supporting their habit is the reason why they are in prison. We will win the war against drugs in prisons only when we have a robust testing programme, good search procedures using drug dogs, intelligence and quality programmes", said Mr Smith.

The Minister of Corrections said it is important to have a comprehensive, integrated programme which provides inmates with incentives to become drug free, and disincentives to use drugs. Last year's Budget provided $1.5m to strengthen drug detection procedures.

"The Department of Corrections is taking a new and bold step to choke-off the supply of drugs in prisons. I am determined to see this noose pulled even tighter and for all avenues for drugs coming into prisons closed-off."