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HM Inspectorate of Prisons: Report on HMP Peterhead


4. Addictions

4.1 There is less overt evidence of drug misuse in Peterhead than in other prisons. Managers acknowledged that this has resulted in an unhelpfully complacent attitude to this aspect of prisoner care. The prison is not included in the SPS Contract with Phoenix House.

4.2 Addictions Prevalence Tests during 2005-06 returned negative results of 97%. The positive tests were primarily for use of cannabis or amphetamines. Managers anticipate that this may change as an increasing number of young people are transferred to the prison but recognised that staff are not as prepared as they should be for this changing pattern. There has been no substance misuse training for some time.

4.3 Currently, the use of illegal alcohol is more of an issue although it is not a significant problem and rarely results in the unruly behaviour that might be seen elsewhere in the estate.

4.4 Managers and staff are satisfied that substance misuse is not affecting the smooth running of the establishment. While the prison stated that it used risk needs information, it was not clear that it was adequately addressing the needs of prisoners who may relapse when they return to the community.

4.5 The prison has not delivered a drugs awareness programme for prisoners for some years. There are currently 18 prisoners on a waiting list for this programme, some for a considerable period of time (one prisoner has waited over three years). Inspectors were told that a group is planned but no date has been set.

4.6 There is an even more substantial list for the prison's 'Sensible Drinking Programme'. Currently 34 prisoners await a place (one prisoner has waited over a year).

4.7 It is also debatable whether the length and content of these programmes is appropriate. They provide only basic awareness and education on substance misuse issues over 10 sessions. For those prisoners with chronic alcohol or drug problems prior to custody this is unlikely to be sufficient. Prisoners spoken to commented that the programmes only 'touch the surface'. One prisoner suggested that this was underlined by the title 'Sensible Drinking' which he saw as a particularly unhelpful suggestion for those prisoners who could never safely drink again.

4.8 Managers reported that the prison did not have the capacity to run new programmes or to run the existing programmes more often. The prison will soon have access to one day per week of the time of the addiction nurse at Aberdeen prison. At present the only external provider is Alcoholics Anonymous. Prisoners spoken to said that this organisation provided valuable support for many but did not meet the needs of others (as is the case in the community).