The eye-wateringly expensive contraband in #HMP #WinsonGreen and other prisons has seen ever-more desperate smokers fight over tiny amounts of tobacco and rolling papers.

For generations tobacco was the main currency between inmates in prisons but new body scanners at jails are drastically cutting down the supply of contraband, sending prices through the roof.

A single sheet of Rizla can now be sold for £5 in prison while retailing in shops at 59p for a pack of 50. One prisoner even demanded £4 for a strike of a single match. Rolling tobacco costs £12.50 in Tesco but is worth more than £1,000 in prisons serving the region such as Featherstone, Brinsford and Oakwood near Wolverhampton.

The Prison Service did not dispute the figures and confirmed expensive contraband items cause strife between prisoners.

A Prison Service spokesman said: “Our security measures are making it harder than ever for gangs to smuggle contraband into prisons. We are investing a further £100 million in gate security and X-ray body scanners to clamp down even more on the items which fuel violence behind bars.”

A recently released prisoner from Smethwick, who did not want to be named: “I’ve done time in Featherstone and Winson Green recently after keeping out of jail for a few years and I could not believe the price of tobacco in there