Watchdog urges inmates to dispose of drugs after six deaths at same prison

A prisons watchdog is appealing to inmates at a jail where six people have died in a short space of time to dispose of any drugs.

Prisons and Probation Ombudsman Adrian Usher launched a series of investigations after a number of prisoners died in three weeks at HMP Parc in Wales.

Mr Usher said on Thursday that he now believed the deaths may be related to Spice, a psychoactive synthetic drug, mixed with another substance.

John Rose and Jason Hussey both died at the privately run category B jail in Bridgend on February 27, while Christopher Stokes died on March 9, according to the watchdog’s record of ongoing fatal incident investigations.

The three other people who have died at the prison have not yet been named.

These are among 20 deaths which the organisation has been notified of, and begun investigating, since January 2022.

Mr Usher said: “Yesterday, we said that we are not making any assumptions as to whether there is a link between these deaths – however, after initial enquiries, we now believe at least four out of the six deaths are drug-related.

“These deaths likely involve spice (a psychoactive substance), mixed with another family of drugs.

“There has been a national public health warning issued about this particular drug, the name of which is yet to be determined, but we believe that at least two of the deceased at HMP Parc had taken this substance.

“It is therefore likely the deaths are all spice-related.

“We urge all prisoners who are in possession of spice to dispose of it immediately.

“This is a dangerous drug and we do not want to see any more unnecessary deaths occur.”

On Wednesday, G4S – the security firm which runs the prison – said their thoughts were with the families and friends of the prisoners who had died at HMP Parc.

The prison (pictured) was previously at the centre of a scandal after a nurse who worked there was jailed in 2022 for having a relationship with an inmate.

That same year, the chief inspector of prisons Charlie Taylor warned in a report of “high” rates of violence at the jail – one of the largest in England and Wales, holding around 1,700 men – and said the rate of self-harm remained higher than at comparable sites.

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