Emergency services were called out more than 26,600 times – or every 20 minutes on average – to incidents in UK prisons last year, the BBC has learnt.
Figures suggest a 52% rise in emergency services callouts since 2011.
The chief inspector of prisons in Wales and England said drugs had a “draining effect on other services”. He added “many jails were not fit for purpose”.
The Prison Service said “a significant number” of emergency services callouts were for “non-violent incidents”.
The BBC asked all 109 UK police forces, ambulance trusts and fire services how many incidents they had been called out to at prisons and youth detention centres each year between 2011 and 2015.
Of the 91 services that supplied full data for all years (excluding those who had no prisons within their jurisdiction), there had been a 52% rise in callouts, from 14,475 in 2011 to 22,055 in 2015.
Chief inspector of prisons Peter Clarke, commenting on the issue of drugs within jails, said: “The impact that these drugs are having is not, of course, limited simply to within the prison walls.
“It has an enormously draining effect on other services, particularly the ambulance service.
“We know of instances where at least one ambulance service has had to declare a major incident in order to respond to a number of people falling very ill as a result of taking these drugs.
“It’s not just a problem for the Prison Service, it’s a problem for the whole community.”
Number of items thrown into prisons doubles in two years
Mr Clarke also told the BBC that some prisons were “not fit for their purpose”.
“If the purpose is to keep people safe in custody… then some of them are failing, undoubtedly,” he said.
“If the purpose is to develop an environment in which meaningful rehabilitation and resettlement …read more
Source:: BBC UK