Legal highs to blame for surge in prison violence, figures show

Man in court for assault

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SEIZURES of drugs previously known as ‘legal highs’ in prisons rocketed in five years, figures have revealed.

New psychoactive substances (NPS) which mimic the effects of drugs such as cannabis, have been identified as a key factor in the recent surge in violence behind bars.

Statistics show the number of incidents where NPS drugs were found in prisons in England and Wales has jumped from 136 in 2011 to 4,261 last year - a rise of more than 30 times.

It comes after an Independent Monitoring Board report revealed HMP Winchester saw increased levels of disorder and violence in 2015/16, and some inmates are spending just 45 minutes a day out of their cells. The new figures, obtained by BBC Breakfast, come days after thousands of prison officers walked out in protest amid claims the prison system was ‘in meltdown’.