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Welsh prison deaths linked to powerful opioid drug

22 Mar 2024 2 minute read
Photo Gareth Copley PA Images

Four of the six deaths at a Welsh prison in the space of a month are believed to be linked to a powerful opioid drug.

South Wales Police said the drug Nitazene, which can be many times stronger than heroin, had been connected to four of the prisoners who had all died at HMP Parc in Bridgend, South Wales.

Two of the deaths are being treated as non-suspicious, while the other four are believed to be drug related.


Detective Inspector Steve Jones, of South Wales Police, said: “At this stage we cannot confirm that the four deaths are connected to any specific drug however a fast-track process has been undertaken and identified the presence of Nitazene based substances in connection with all four deaths.

“Spice has been identified in two of the four deaths.

“Post-mortem examinations have been completed on two of the four men and at this stage cause of death is inconclusive and we are awaiting toxicology.

“The other two men are awaiting a post-mortem examination.”


A multi-agency investigation involving the prison, prison operator G4S, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman and Public Health Wales has been launched.

Ombudsman Adrian Usher has already urged inmates at the prison to dispose of any drugs.

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.

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 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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