DRUGS, violence and mental health in prisons will be laid bare in a new documentary filmed in the North-East.

Durham Prison, its inmates and the staff who work there will feature in the three-part documentary series looking at life on the inside.

The Channel Four documentary, which was produced and directed by Paddy Wivell, was filmed over seven months at HMP Durham, in Old Elvet.

Filmmakers were given unprecedented access to create three episodes in the series Prison.

A spokesperson for the programme said: “The series captures first-hand the escalating drug problem, the scale of violence that frontline staff and prisoners endure daily and the multiple challenges of dealing with those suffering from mental health issues.

“By gaining the trust and confidence of prisoners and staff, the crew gained a level of access and emotional honesty never seen before in an English prison documentary – offering a unique insight into why drugs are important to prisoners, how and why violence quickly escalates and why so many prisoners suffer from debilitating mental health problems.”

The filmmakers spent around seven months at the prison, with the crew taking around a month to gain the trust of prisoners prior to the start of filming.

Then governor Tim Allen gave the crew the run of the prison so they could see first-hand the challenges the prison staff were up against on a day to day basis.

After being given training in security and personal safety, they were even given their own set of prison keys.

The three episodes each deal with a different issue; drugs, mental health and violence.

Last year, Durham became the North-East’s remand centre, serving the local courts and prisons.

It has an operational capacity of 996 and is home to adult and youth offenders, aged between 18 and 21, on remand as well as a low proportion of sentenced category B and C prisoners.

The spokesperson for the programme added: “With a vast weekly traffic of prisoners from driving offences to murderers to drug addicts, the prison is faced with ever changing demands, a pressure on bed space and complex prisoner needs.

“These challenging conditions at Durham offer a good reflection of the national issues currently facing the prison service.”

  • The first episode of Prison is on Thursday, July 19, 2018, at 9pm, on Channel Four