SNIFFER dogs have been called into Lewes Prison to find drugs after a wave of smuggling.

“Spice” is the main substance being taken into the category B jail.

One inmate tried to hang himself in his cell last Friday while apparently under the influence of the drug, The Argus can reveal.

Spice is similar to cannabis in appearance, though the wife of a prisoner recently on remand at Lewes Prison said it is being smuggled in different forms, including liquid.

Eastbourne resident Jody Gill, 34, said she feared for her husband Mason’s life after he told her about what was going on in the prison.

Mrs Gill said: “I was absolutely terrified for him – inmates were being spiked with spice and I thought it might happen to Mason.

“Whenever I got a phone call I worried. I thought he was going to die in there.

“He saw spice in there.”

Use of spice has been rife in jails across the country in recent months and has attracted lots of media attention.

It is a mix of herbs and chemicals. Its effects are supposed to be similar to cannabis, though can be much more extreme – including provoking suicidal thoughts.

Mrs Gill said she believed the prison could not cope with the spice issue due to staff shortages.

Her partner is due to stand trial in December for attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Mark Fairhurst, national chairman of the Prison Officers Association, believes everybody going in and out of jails should be searched.

He said: “Spice is everywhere.

“There’s only one way to combat it – extra staff, making sure people are being searched. We want body search scanners. I’m quite happy to be searched every time I leave the prison.”

He added drugs are also thrown into the prison in packages but others take them in inside their bodies – and that is hard for them to stop.

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: “Drugs have no place in our prisons and the prison is using sniffer dogs and carrying out extra searches to tackle the issue head on.

“HMP Lewes is fully staffed and prisoners who feel vulnerable are able to seek support from our trained officers.

“To tackle the supply and use of drugs in prison we have invested £30 million in prison security, building on our investment in body scanners, improved searching techniques and phone-blocking technology.”

She added: “A prisoner received medical treatment in the prison following an incident at HMP Lewes on August 3.”