New psychoactive substances: a case for integration between health and criminal justice services

Document type
Corporate author(s)
Date of publication
9 May 2016
Criminal Justice Services, Offenders, Mental health services, Health Services, Young Offenders
Social welfare
Material type

Download (1.6MB )

Roundtable seminar with Nigel Newcomen CBE, Prisons and Probation Ombudsman and Kate Davies OBE, Head of Health and Justice, Armed Forces and Public Health, NHS England.

In December last year Nick Hardwick, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, declared that new psychoactive substances (NPS), also known as legal highs, were the greatest threat to safety in UK prisons. Not only their effects on prisoners’ health conditions, but also the behavioural threats they create, and the consequences of large debts built up by some prisoners, have consolidated NPS as one of the biggest challenges facing the prison estate.

Users of synthetic cannabinoids are 30 times more likely to have been admitted to a hospital emergency room because of their drug use compared to users of actual cannabis, the charity RAPt  reported last year. The debt incurred by prisoners who buy the drugs are creating dangers both to them and their families, and NOMS has furthermore noted the existence of a link between use of NPS and violent behaviour in its latest annual report.

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