Scotland's drug crisis: Big drop in narcotic-soaked prison mail after jails start photocopying letters

The amount of drug-soaked mail being sent to Scottish prisons fell by almost three-quarters since a new policy of photocopying prisoners’ letters was introduced.

The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) said there had been a reduction of about 72% in letters which tested positive for an illicit substance since the rule was introduced in December.

In a letter to Holyrood’s Criminal Justice Committee, the SPS said it had photocopied about 48% of all general correspondence since December 13.

This meant 7,160 out of 14,769 mail items were photocopied.

Edinburgh's Saughton Prison is one of many across Scotland affected by drug misuse.Edinburgh's Saughton Prison is one of many across Scotland affected by drug misuse.
Edinburgh's Saughton Prison is one of many across Scotland affected by drug misuse.
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Prison officials tested 13% of the incoming mail using a Rapiscan machine, of which 12% was positive for an illicit substance – a total of 242 items.

The SPS letter said: “The number of items testing positive on the Rapiscan machine has significantly reduced since the implementation of the photocopying of mail.

“In the 12 months preceding the implementation of these powers, the number of items testing positive on a monthly basis was approximately 739.

“This represents approximately a 72% reduction in the number of mail items being received into SPS establishments which are testing positive for an illicit substance.”

Conservative MSP, Jamie Greene, commented on the letter during a meeting of the Criminal Justice Committee on Wednesday.

He said: “12% of the mail that went through the Rapiscan machine actually did test positive.

“So it sounds like a wise move on all our parts to push for this.”

He said the committee should continue to monitor methods being used to smuggle drugs into prisons.

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