PRISONERS in Durham could buy drugs within 40 minutes of being released, according to a police chief.

Ron Hogg, the Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner (PCVC) for Durham, has called for more help for offenders to break the cycles which lead them to reoffend.

Speaking at a meeting of the Durham and Darlington Police and Crime Panel last week, he also spoke of the importance of helping them get jobs and housing.

He said: “If they [prisoners] are released from HMP Durham, they’re probably buying drugs from North Road within 40 to 50 minutes of being released and they’re back in the same system they went in from.

“They’re coming out and some of the issues they’ve got are having nowhere to go or they’re dependent on drugs. It’s about making sure releases are planned better, but we know many will end up on North Road, or elsewhere, buying drugs and reverting back to what they’ve been doing. Work is being done with the prison service to mitigate this.”

Mr Hogg was keen to reassure the public that police take note of ‘community feedback’ to target drug hotspots and ‘move dealers out’.

He also revealed he was working with employers to ‘understand’ why they were reluctant to hire ex-offenders and how to change this.

And he repeated his support for ending short sentences, which he said did not allow prison or probation services enough time to address issues which caused people to commit crimes in the first place.