By Neil O'Brien
You might think that a prison sentence would be a good opportunity to get drug addicts clean. But according to a survey of prisoners carried out by Policy Exchange, more than a third of prisoners are using drugs inside, with one in five using heroin.
Why does it seem to be so hard to keep prisons drug free? Surely prison should be one place that chaotic, criminal people can experience a bit of order?
One problem is the culture of denial about how drugs really get into prison. Previous government reports have always stressed the role of prison visits, and material coming in "over the wall". But the sheer volume of drugs being consumed in prison suggests a more important channel. In fairness, a previous investigation by the Met suggested that one in ten prison officers is corrupt. But nothing has been done about it.
Its hardly surprising that there are so many officers are bent, given that drugs are worth up to 1,000 per cent more on the inside, and the current anti-corruption regime is a joke. As the Sunday Times reports today, even when serious problems are identified in particular prisons, no action has been taken.
Drugs in prison are a massive social problem: making re-offending extremely likely. It doesn't take any money to fix this problem - just the political willpower to face up to the real issues. It is a classic example of a problem the coalition can fix. My hunch is that the trade unions won't like some of the things that must be done to fix the problem. But many prison officers will welcome a clean out.