London, February 15: Inmates of a UK jail used pages from a copy of 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire', a popular book authored by JK Rowling, which were sprayed with drugs to smoke up illegally behind bars. It is believed the drugs had been sprayed on to the paper before the book was brought into HMP Nottingham jail in the East Midlands region of England.
At least 400 pages of the book were missing, which staff suspect had been torn into strips and smoked. Prison officer Adam Donegani told the BBC that each strip containing a "spice-like substance" was worth about 50 pounds. "The prices are inflated within the prison service (compared with) street value, so that can be whatever they want to charge for it," he said.
The banned spice-like drug, which mimics marijuana and leaves users in a zombie-like state, was discovered after tests using a new drug-testing machine at the prison, installed as part of a 1.4-million pounds investment to refurbish HMP (Her Majesty's Prison) Nottingham and bolster security at what is considered one of the UK's most dangerous prisons.
In January last year, Peter Clarke, the UK's chief inspector of prisons, had triggered an "urgent notification" procedure at HMP Nottingham after concluding that it was "dangerous, disrespectful and drug-ridden". "This prison will not become fit for purpose until it is made safe," he noted.
The procedure compelled the UK justice secretary to draw up an action plan to bring about improvements, including reducing the population by 200 to 780.
The jail is among one of 10 on UK Prisons Minister Rory Stewart's urgent improvements list.
"There is still much to do, and I do not underestimate the scale of the challenge, but the first six months have given us a solid platform from which we can set a more positive direction for all our prisons," Stewart said. HMP Nottingham's governor, Phil Novis, said conditions were improving but admitted the jail remained "fundamentally unsafe".