Drink and Drugs News DDN July_August 2019 | Page 5

Read the full stories, and more, online www.drinkanddrugsnews.com PRISON SAFETY UNDER THREAT FROM RISING NPS USE increased in ‘every part’ of the closed prison estate, the THE RISE IN NPS USE IN PRISONS HAS HAD A SERIOUS report notes, from local prisons to high security IMPACT ON SAFETY, with increasing rates of violence and establishments. Boards in almost all local prisons had self-harm, says the annual report of the Independent reported significant rises in violence and assaults, and Monitoring Boards (IMB). As well as their impact on rates had doubled in Bedford, Belmarsh, Durham and health and behaviour, drugs have produced an Wandsworth. Birmingham, meanwhile, had ‘stabilised’ at ‘alternative power structure, based on debt, bullying and the level of 120 assaults per month. intimidation of prisoners, their families and sometimes ‘There is no question that IMBs are still reporting prison staff’, the document states. some serious and ongoing problems in prisons,’ said The prison system in England and Wales is now in a Dame Anne Owers. ‘The decline in safety, conditions and state of ‘fragile recovery’ following a lengthy period of purposeful activity in prisons over the last few years has increased drug use and violence combined with staffing seriously hampered their ability to rehabilitate prisoners. problems and inadequate rehabilitation opportunities, it This will take time to reverse, and will require consistent says. While some new measures such as the leadership and management both in the Prison Service government’s prison drug strategy (DDN, May, page 4) and the Ministry of Justice, as new staff, policies and were showing ‘signs of promise’, it was too early to say if resources bed in.’ they would have any sustained impact, said IMB chair IMB national annual report 2017/18 at Dame Anne Owers. There were also significant concerns www.imb.org.uk around the number of prisoners with serious mental health conditions who were being held for lengthy periods in prison segregation units. Every prison has an IMB, with boards across ‘all kinds’ expressing serious concern about the availability of drugs, particularly NPS. HMP Guys Marsh in Dorset saw an average of one NPS-related incident per day last year, while HMP Humber had an average of ten per week in 2017. In one month at HMP Wayland 41 prisoners were under the influence of NPS, of whom 26 self-harmed and five needed to be taken to hospital. At HMP The Mount in Hertfordshire, a drug recovery wing had to be shut down because there were ‘too many drugs’ – when it was moved to another wing, ‘the drugs, bullying and violence moved with it’. DAME AnnE oWERs Incidents of reported violence have also ‘There is no question that iMBs are still reporting some serious and on - going problems in prisons’ LABELLING LAWS FRIDAY FAILINGS ALCOHOL LABELLING that includes up- to-date drinking guidelines would be mandatory under a Labour government, according to shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth. Despite being introduced three and a half years ago as of last year only 16 per cent of people were aware of the government’s revised low-risk drinking guidelines (DDN, February 2018, page 5), with many products still referring to outdated limits or having no guideline information at all. ‘It’s an utter abdication of responsibility for government to task the chief medical officer with updating the guidelines and then not oblige the industry to display this vital information on their products,’ Ashworth stated. THE UK’S PRISON SERVICES should take steps to avoid releasing prisoners with complex needs on a Friday afternoon, says a report from ACMD. More than a third of prisoners are released on Fridays, which makes it more difficult for them to access drug treatment or stable housing, says Custody-community transitions. It also increases the risk of relapse or overdose, which is particularly high in the first weeks after release. In 2017-18, just 12 per cent of prisoners with an opioid problem left prison with naloxone, while more than a third of prisoners were released without settled accommodation. ‘It is paramount that the government makes sure more is done to help prevent vulnerable people from relapsing after their release from prison,’ said ACMD chair Dr Owen Bowden-Jones. Report at www.gov.uk www.drinkanddrugsnews.com ‘Abdication of responsibility...’ JonAThAn AshWoRTh SEIZING UP EUROPE IS SEEING RECORD LEVELS OF SEIZURES of cocaine, says the latest EMCDDA European drug report. Both the number of seizures and the quantities seized are at record levels, with more than 140 tonnes seized in 2017 – double the previous year’s total. Fifty-five new NPS were also detected for the first time in 2018, bringing the total number being monitored by EMCDDA to 730. European drug report 2019: trends and developments at www.emcdda.europa.eu HALF MEASURES A REPORT FROM THE MONITORING AND EVALUATING SCOTLAND’S ALCOHOL STRATEGY programme (MESAS) shows that the percentage of alcohol sold below 50p per unit in Scottish off-licences and supermarkets last year was half that sold in 2017. Minimum pricing of 50p per unit was finally introduced in Scotland last May, following a lengthy legal battle. Last year also saw the lowest total volume of pure alcohol sold per adult in Scotland since records began in the mid-’90s, at 9.9 litres per week. However, this still remains almost 10 per cent higher than figures for England and Wales. 2019 MESAS monitoring report at www.healthscotland.scot/ WELCOME HELP THE COUNTRY’S FIRST NHS GAMBLING CLINIC for children is to open this year, NHS England has announced. According to the Gambling Commission, around 55,000 children can be classed as having a gambling problem, while 450,000 are regular gamblers – a higher number than those who have drunk alcohol or taken drugs (DDN, December/January, page 5). The facility will form part of a growing network of services for people with gambling issues, including the establishment of up to 14 new clinics.‘This has the potential to be a major turning point and it is all about making sure the NHS does everything it can to help people of all ages who are seriously addicted to gambling,’ said NHS England’s national director for mental health, Claire Murdoch. July/August 2019 | drinkanddrugsnews | 5