Prisoners at Her Majesty’s Prison The Verne, Portland, Dorset, England had their swine flu gel withdrawn after officers discovered they were drinking it and getting drunk. Instead of rubbing the gel into their hands, prisoners had been wrapping their lips around the dispenser outlets and consuming it only hours after the dispensers were installed. The liquid soap-gel contains alcohol.

According to various reports from the UK press, a prisoner became aggressive after consuming the gel and eventually got into a fist-fight with a fellow inmate. However, the BBC reported on 25th September that reports of a fight are incorrect.

The prison governor ordered the immediate withdrawal of all the dispensers from the prison.

The dispensers were installed as a measure to combat the spread of swine flu. However, according to a source at the Verne Prison, it was not long before inmates “starting drinking the stuff”.

Nearby Dorset County Hospital, Dorchester, had recently removed the same gel after vagrants wandered in and began drinking it.

According to Peter McParlin, of the Prison Officers Association (POA), the local POA had warned senior prison management that giving prisoners access to products containing alcoholic gel might not be a wise move. McParlin said that concern had been raised with the Prison Governor beforehand.

Reports say that some prisoners mixed the gel with a drink before consuming it.

The Verne Prison has been in existence since 1949 on the site of a former military barracks. It is a Category C Training Prison for adult males. According to the prison’s website “The population consists of life sentence prisoners and determinate sentenced prisoners, many serving four years or over.”

The Health Protection Agency, UK, reports that the number of people becoming infected with H1N1 swine flu is continuing to increase, especially among school-aged children. Rates are below the normal winter seasonal baseline thresholds in England, Wales and Scotland, but are above newly defined provisional threshold levels in Northern Ireland. Over the last week the estimated number of new infections stands at 9,000; up from an estimated 5,000 during the previous week.

The European Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CMPH) has issued a positive opinion and recommends approval for GlaxoSmithKline’s candidate pandemic (H1N1 swine flu) adjuvanted vaccine PandemrixTM. The indication for the vaccine is for protection against pandemic H1N1 2009 influenza. The regulators agree that PandemrixTM can be used in adults, pregnant women and children over six months old.

Written by Christian Nordqvist