Positive drugs tests in prisons at record low

  • Anne Tolley

Corrections Minister Anne Tolley says the number of prisoners testing positive for drugs has reached a record low.

Latest figures, for the eight months up to the end of February, show that only 4.3 per cent of prisoners returned a positive result after random tests for drugs.

“These figures are fantastic, and show that our significant investment in addiction treatment and prison security is paying off,” says Mrs Tolley.

“We have come a long way since testing first began in 1998, when over a third of prisoners tested positive for drugs.

“In 2007/08, 13 per cent of prisoners tested positive and by last year this had fallen to seven per cent, so we are well on track to achieve our lowest-ever yearly results.

“If we want to stop prisoners from reoffending we have to break their addictions.

“We are doing this by cutting off the supply of drugs and contraband, and increasing access to drug treatment. This is also making prisons safer places for staff.

“Since 2008, we have doubled the number of prisoners able to attend specialist drug treatment units, and introduced new laws that increase search powers for Corrections officers and provide new offences relating to contraband.

“These law changes also enable prisoner mail and phone calls to be monitored, so staff can gather better intelligence about the smuggling of drugs into prisons.

“And we haven’t finished yet. Legislation before the House, in the Corrections Amendment Bill, makes improvements to drug testing and strip searching procedures. This will make it even more difficult to smuggle contraband in to prisons.”