Positive drug tests in prisoners at all-time low

  • Judith Collins

The number of prisoners testing positive in random drug tests has reached an all-time low, Corrections Minister Judith Collins announced today.

“For the year ended 31 December 2015 there were more than 4500 general random drug tests on prisoners. The rate of positive results was 3.1 percent. In comparison, the rate of positive results in 2009/10 was 10 per cent and in 2000/2001 it was 22 percent.

As well as being illegal, drug use undermines the safety, security and good order of our prisons. Corrections place considerable emphasis on reducing the supply and demand for drugs in prison.

“Legislation was passed in 2009 to increase the search powers of Corrections Officers, introduce new offences for contraband and allow permitted staff to read non-privileged prisoner mail.

“Since that time,  Corrections has continued to strengthen its systems, increase specialist search teams and target intelligence.

“Other screening methods include:

  • extensive prison perimeter security,
  • limiting prison entry points to a single point of entry,
  • camera surveillance,
  • background checks on prison visitors,
  • searches of visitors and vehicles entering prison property,
  • requiring prisoners to wear closed overalls in visiting areas,
  • Specialist detector dog teams.

“All Prisoners are screened for alcohol and drug problems when they enter prison to determine support required. Two thirds of prisoners enter prison with drug and alcohol problems.

“Drug and alcohol treatment is available in prison including brief, intermediate and intensive programmes of between one and eight weeks. Post-release drug and alcohol programmes are also available

By tackling drug abuse and dependence we can reduce re-offending and help offenders to lead crime-free lives on release,’’ says Ms Collins.