Two years on from a damning report that said officers had ‘lost control’ of the prison because of the smoking ban, bosses at the jail say things are now running smoothly.
The benefits of the smoking ban for prisoners far outweighed any difficulties in enforcing it, according to the prison’s deputy governer.
Nigel Fisher was speaking as Westminster considers introducing a similar smoking ban in its 139 prisons in England and Wales.
The Isle of Man was one of the first jurisdictions in Western Europe to introduce such a ban.
In October 2011, a report by the inspector of prisons condemned Jurby prison for ‘losing control’ of the smoking ban, claiming it was widely flouted and warders were doing little to enforce it. According to the report, popular dodges included making cigarettes using nicotine patches and pages torn from Bibles and directories.
But Mr Fisher told the Courier the original report had exaggerated the situation and the island’s ban, introduced in April 2008, shortly before the prisoners were transferred from Victoria Road to the new building at Jurby, was working well.
‘It was definitely a step in the right direction and there are not many places now where you can smoke.
‘The idea was never to have a go at smokers but to protect other people from the dangers of passive smoking. No matter what anyone says, if you smoke behind a door it still escapes so the only way to deal with it was by a blanket ban. It’s protection for non-smoking staff, visitors and other prisoners.’
A government spokesman said the smoking ban was re-examined periodically and had been reconsidered at the time of the original report but the weight of opinion remained in favour. Prisoners are given a programme of help and support to stop smoking when they enter the prison, including advice and courses of nicotine patches to help them to give up, he said.
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