Commissioners are being urged to extend the range of services on offer for prisoners with alcohol addiction, in light of charity research suggesting current provision is insufficient.

In April, primary care trusts were given full control of budgets for addiction services in prisons, where previously commissioning was shared with the Ministry of Justice.

Research by the Rehabilitation of Addicted Prisoners Trust has found more than a third of prisoners assessed by addiction services – roughly around half of all prisoners undergo an assessment – are “severely dependent on alcohol”.

The figure is based on a survey conducted by the charity’s assessment centres at 15 prisons, which work with more than 13,000 prisoners a year.

Trust chief executive Mike Trace told HSJ that “historically spending is all focused on drugs”, while “there are almost no” specific alcohol services.

Mr Trace, a deputy drugs tsar under the Labour government, has written to PCT chief executives and directors of public health to highlight the gap in provision.

He said some PCTs had begun needs assessments for prison addiction services, but “some are cutting corners and using old needs assessments, while others are simply re-commissioning the existing service”.

He said: “PCTs now have a huge opportunity – and a big responsibility – to really help drive down the costs of alcohol fuelled crime, and the alcohol related burden on the NHS and social services.”