Drug uses in prisons near Ballarat climbing

Ararat’s Hopkins Correctional Centre and Trawalla’s Langi Kal Kal Prison have seen an upward trend in positive drug tests.

During targeted urine tests, 11.63 per cent of prisoners tested positive for drugs at Hopkins in July and 8.33 per cent in August. 

Hopkins recorded no positive tests for those months during last year.

If the prison outside Ararat continues to see this level of positive tests throughout 2017-18, then its average positive rate will end up double that of the two previous years.

Heroin substitutes, alcohol, smoking paraphernalia and weapons were the most common items seized by guards at Hopkins during August and July. Hopkins carried out 12 targeted and 86 random drug tests during August out of a prison population of 719, while Langi Kal Kal carried out 19 targeted and 41 random tests out of 334 prisoners.  

The figures were contained in the latest Drugs in Prisons report from the Victorian Department of Justice. Figures from the report suggests that Buprenorphine remains the most popular drug among prisoners in Hopkins Correctional Facility.

Buprenorphine is a controlled substance and has legitimate uses in managing withdrawal symptoms for heroin and opiate addicts, similar to methadone, but can be abused to get high.

During August, Hopkins Correctional Facility staff seized one gram of cannabis from one prisoner, a total of three prescription tablets on three prisoners, and a total of five buprenorphine tablets on three prisoners.

Hopkins staff also seized one syringe, five smoking paraphernalia items, seven edged weapons, one electronic device, five tools and 10 other contraband items in the same month.

Corrections Victoria responded to specific questions about Hopkins and Langi Kal Kal with a statement about its efforts to combat drugs and other contraband across the whole prison system. 

“Corrections Victoria takes a zero-tolerance approach to illicit drug use in our prison system and has one of the toughest and most extensive drug-testing regimes in Australia,” a spokesperson said.