DRUG seizures at a local prison have quadrupled in the last three years.

HMP Hindley in Bickershaw has seen a total of 675 drug seizures between 2020 and 2023, a freedom of information request revealed.

But, in 2022, there were a massive 329 reported incidents of drugs found in cells – a huge increase compared to just 81 in 2020.

The Freedom of Information request (FOI) submitted by the Local Democracy Reporting Service also revealed there were 265 reported drug finds in 2021.

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According to the Ministry of Justice, this spike in drug incidents reflects the investment made into prison security which have helped uncover more hidden drugs stashes.

The MOJ also highlighted the independent Monitoring Board report for HMP Hindley, published in May 2022, which did not include concerns about high drug use.

£100m investment 'stopping more drugs' getting into prisons

A Prison Service spokesperson said: “Our £100m investment in prison security means we are finding and stopping more drugs getting into our prisons.

“We have boosted security with airport-style scanners and sniffer dogs which have helped stop 28,000 illicit items – including drugs – entering our jails, showing our crackdown is working.”

According to the MOJ, their £100m investment into security included X-ray body scanners to detect contraband, which includes drugs. There are 97 X-ray body scanners, providing coverage across the entire country, they say.

As of April 2022, these X-ray scanners have produced 28,626 positive indications preventing drugs and mobile phones and other illicit items from entering prisons, the MOJ claim. Despite this, the number of mobile phones confiscated from prison cells at the Barracks Road site has not increased significantly.

Leigh Journal: D image of the proposed plan for two new cell blocks at HMP HindleyD image of the proposed plan for two new cell blocks at HMP Hindley (Image: Mott Macdonald/ MOJ/ Wigan Council)

In 2021, the number of mobiles seized was 81 at HMP Hindley, 50 fewer than the 136 the year before. However, this did increase to 127 in 2022, the FOI confirmed.

The number of contraband items inmates were caught trying to smuggle into the prison and young offenders institute (YOI) between 2020 and 2023 has remained low, MOJ data confirms.

In 2020, there were six incidents of prisoners trying to sneak cannabis and tobacco in, and one incident where the offender actually swallowed the contraband they were trying to bring in.

There was one attempt to sneak in heroin back in 2021 and two incidents of drug being seized from offenders as they entered the prison in 2022, the FOI confirmed.

The prison has also seen additional investment to meet rising demand by building two new cell blocks with the capacity to accommodate 494 prisoners.

The proposal, which is part of an expansion programme carried out by the Ministry of Justice, was given the green light by Wigan Council in July 2022.