How photocopiers are reducing drug use in prisons
Inmates have been getting high by smoking letters soaked in psychoactive substances
Prison officers have cut psychoactive drug use among inmates by using a photocopier to tackle the problem, according to prison inspectors.
Inmates at Humber jail, in East Yorkshire, are being given copies of all letters and photos sent to them, after it emerged that some mail had been soaked in new psychoactive substances (NPS), formerly known as “legal highs”. Prisoners were getting high by smoking the paper.
In an inspection report published today, HM Inspectorate of Prisons said: “There had been a reduction in NPS-related incidents after this measure was introduced and it had been a justifiable short-term response to a very serious NPS problem.”
However, inspectors warned that the practice should be reviewed to ensure that it remains proportionate and effective, noting that the “intrusive measure had caused much anger among prisoners”.
Photocopying letters initially caused a “backlog” of post and was “not part of an effective wider drug supply reduction strategy”, the report said.
About four in every ten prisoners still tested positive for illegal drugs, and nearly two-thirds of inmates said it was still easy to get them. “Despite efforts to tackle the supply of drugs, they were still too easily available,” found the report, although it noted that NPS-related incidents had “reduced from a very high number earlier in 2017”.
In September, The Daily Telegraph reported that fake legal letters were being sprayed with Spice, a former legal high, and sent to other prisons. The drug was blamed for an increase in violence and assaults on inmates and staff.
The Psychoactive Substances Act, introduced in May 2016, made it illegal to manufacture, import, supply or distribute - but not possess - psychoactive substances.