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Jail’s smoking ban could cause backlash from prisoners

PUBLISHED: 11:54 20 February 2018 | UPDATED: 11:54 20 February 2018

Picture: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

Picture: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

Smoking is to be banned in a Norfolk jail, with fears it could lead to a backlash amongst prisoners.

NHS England has ruled that HMP Wayland in Griston, near Watton, must become entirely smokefree, like the vast majority of detention centres in the country.

Yet that is likely to cause tension with the jail’s 1,000 prisoners, 75pc to 80pc of whom who smoke and 100 of whom are serving life sentences.

Although they will still be allowed to vape, there will be a complete ban on lighting up anywhere on site – whether inside or outside.

Smoking cessation groups will be set up to help those serving custodial sentences to cope with going cold turkey.

Wayland Prison. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYWayland Prison. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

But Trish Phillips, chairman of Wayland Prison’s Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) – which monitors standards in the Category C jail – said prisoners are already “in denial that it’s going to happen – but it is”.

Anyone who has tried to give up smoking will know the huge challenges it poses and how it can affect people’s moods.

However with HMP Wayland facing huge problems in the past with drugs dropped by over the prison gates by drones, there are now fears prisoners will try to similarly secretly break the rules.

Mrs Phillips said: “Tobacco could then become something they can trade.

Wayland Prison. Picture: ANGELA SHARPEWayland Prison. Picture: ANGELA SHARPE

“If they can get drugs in, that will become a trading item.

“You wouldn’t think of that sort of thing in the outside world, but in prison anything that’s forbidden – that’s what people want.”

Yet she pointed to the huge advantages of the move on the overall health and wellbeing of those serving time inside.

“We know the amount of people giving up smoking because of the restrictions outside has made a huge difference to the health of the community,” she said.

“This is something NHS England has imposed. This is one of the last prisons in the country to go smokefree.”

The move is set to be brought in over the next few weeks.

Wayland Prison is also looking for people to join its independent monitoring board (IMB), to check on the jail’s performance and how prisoners are being treated.

Individuals are usually expected to make about three or four visits per month.

For more information or to apply, visit
www.imb.org.uk

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