A 15-year-old boy has been caught allegedly trying to smuggle drugs into a controversial open prison.

Ford Open Prison, near Arundel, revealed it called the police after seeing the boy acting suspiciously outside and trying to drop a package.

The incident will raise further questions about the availability of drugs at the jail which was revealed by The Argus this month as one of the worst in the country for incidents of drug taking by prisoners.

Nick Herbert, MP for Arundel and South Downs, is calling for an investigation into the incident.

Mr Herbert has written to Prisons Minister Gerry Sutcliffe after prison officers at Ford told him they were not being given enough support by the police and Crown Prosecution Service in dealing with smugglers.

A Sussex Police spokesman denied police were "unsupportive" of prison officers.

Mr Herbert said: "On February 1, I attended a meeting in the House (of Commons) organised by the Prison Officers' Association to discuss problems in open prisons.

"Prison officers from Ford informed the meeting that drugs were being passed into the prison but the police and the Crown Prosecution Service were unsupportive when prison officers apprehended traffickers, who often only received a caution for the offence.

"We were also told children as young as 15 were being used as drugs traffickers.

"I have no means to judge the accuracy of this information but I believe it should be investigated.

"The allegation that children are being used to traffick drugs into the prison is of particular concern and, if true, demands action."

Fiona Radford, governor of Ford, said: "There was an incident with a 15-year-old. We apprehended him trying to drop something outside the prison and called the police.

"It was in the evening and he was found lurking around and looking suspicious.

"I think it is appalling he has been put up to it by an adult.

It's abusive."

She said she was aware of only one incident involving a juvenile at Ford and not several as suggested by Mr Herbert.

Zsa Roggendorff, chairman of Ford's independent monitoring board and a local magistrate, said: "This is a bad incident and it needs to be dealt with very rigorously."

She pledged to raise the issue with the Prisons Minister, who is visiting Ford with Mr Herbert later this month, and the governor.

A Sussex Police spokesman said an adult and 15-year-old were arrested and bailed until April 8 while further inquiries were carried out.

The incident was still being dealt with and the teenager had not been cautioned.

The spokesman added: "Sussex Police do work closely with staff at Ford Open Prison and have assisted with suspects taking drugs into the prison.

"Each case is dealt with on its own merit and if the circumstances should warrant a caution then that could be the decision."

Mark Bishop, acting head of the Chichester district CPS, said: "We don't have anything to add to what Sussex Police have already said."

The Prison Service and Prison Officers' Association at Ford did not respond to requests for comment.

Earlier this month The Argus revealed drugs dogs would be stationed at Ford in the coming year after claims that the prison was among the 40 worst jails for drugtaking, with 14 per cent of inmates failing mandatory random testing.

A report by the prison's independent monitoring board said: "The security department has achieved significant success over the past year with seizures of drugs, alcohol, mobile phones and other illicit items.

"There is, however, evidence that, due to the shorter-term offender coming to Ford, drugs are tending much more towards class A and this is of considerable concern.

"The provision of drugs dogs is considered a paramount requirement if the problem is to be contained.

"Additional funding for extra staff and surveillance equipment would undoubtedly improve the situation."