Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins voices concerns after visiting Nottingham prison

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins.
Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins.

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins has voiced concern about the prevalance of illegal drugs at Nottingham prison.

Mr Perkins visited the jail on Friday – nearly six months after the chief inspector of prisons reported a ‘dangerous’ and ‘disrespectful’ environment there.

There have been eight self-inflicted deaths at the jail since 2016.

Last October, Chesterfield man Marc Maltby, 23, was found dead at the prison. His mother said an autopsy concluded he died by hanging.

Mr Perkins – whose visit came three days after another inmate, 29-year-old Robert Frejus, passed away – said: “It was an eye-opening visit.

“I went because I wanted to learn more about why the jail is struggling – and I think there are three reasons.

“Firstly, there have been huge cuts leading to the loss of experienced staff.

“Secondly, the scale of problems with illegal drugs – in particular Mamba and Spice – is massive.

“We need to really step up the war on Mamba and Spice – it’s wrecking lives. I’m seeking to get the classification changed so they become Class A drugs.

“Thirdly, prisoners are returning to the jail time and time again as there’s not a lot of rehabilitation going on.”

Mr Perkins added: “Some prisoners are being locked up for 23 hours at a time – that can’t be helping them at all.

“The governor also told me that every single day at least one officer will be assaulted.”

In May, Peter Clarke, the chief inspector of prisons, said inmates may have taken their own lives at HMP Nottingham because they could no longer face life at the ‘drug-ridden jail’.

In a report, Mr Clarke said the death rate at the jail was ‘tragic and appalling’.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “We have taken significant steps in recent months to address the issues faced by HMP Nottingham. These include providing bespoke training to 10 officers dedicated to supporting those with mental health issues, while NHS England are investing an extra £200,000 in mental health services at the prison.

“Across the prison estate, we are spending an additional £40million on safety and security measures including x-ray scanners, drug-detection dogs and phone-blocking technology, and Nottingham now has four dedicated substance misuse officers.

“The prison has recruited an extra 79 prison officers in the last two years and to help retain experienced officers we’ve given them the biggest pay rise in a decade.”

HMP Nottingham is a male category B prison, which takes offenders from Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire courts, and has a capacity of 1,060 inmates.