Bullying and drug concerns at Hydebank Wood

Hydebank Wood
Hydebank Wood

Drugs are becoming more readily available at a young offenders’ centre in Northern Ireland, an inspection has found.

Unpredictable and life-threatening new psychoactive substances which mimic the effects of cannabis, heroin or amphetamines are allegedly entering Hydebank Wood College.

Synthetic cannabis not detected by normal drugs tests was also used, prisoners and staff told reviewers.

The supply is leading to bullying and intimidation, according to Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland.

However the watchdog commended the Northern Ireland Prison Service for delivering significant improvements in outcomes and greater emphasis on rehabilitation.

It said: “Nevertheless, more young men than at our previous inspection told us they felt unsafe.

“Those we spoke to told us that the increased availability of drugs and concentrations of young men with very challenging behaviour were leading to bullying and intimidation.

“There were early signs that new psychoactive substances were entering the prison, further adding to safety concerns.”

Hydebank houses young people aged 18-21 in Belfast and focuses on education and employment.

Inspectors – including Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons – found performance at Hydebank Wood Secure College and Ash House [women’s prison] had improved or been maintained in areas like safety and resettlement compared to 2013.