Volteface is pleased to announce its collaboration with leading academics from the Substance Use and Addictive Behaviours Research Group at Manchester Metropolitan University Criminology Department.

Rebecca Askew and Rob Ralphs have been awarded the Chancellor’s Fellowship Award by MetroPolis, a new think tank seeking to ensure that academic work informs policy development.

Dr Rob Ralphs is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology and co-convenor of the interdisciplinary Substance Use and Addictive Behaviours (SUAB) research group at Manchester Metropolitan University. His 20 years of research and expertise spans both substance use and drug markets. This includes school surveys of drug use, research exploring the barriers to employment for ex-problematic drug users funded by the UK Drug Policy Commission, and the largest in-situ study of clubbers in the UK.

Rob will be working alongside Dr Rebecca Askew, who is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology. Rebecca’s three main areas of study include the positives, pleasures and functions of substance use; innovation and evolving approaches involving the consumption and distribution of illicit substances; and drug policy reform.

(Metropolis Launch Event)
(MetroPolis Launch Event)

Their paper, ‘Adding Spice to the Porridge: The development of a synthetic cannabinoid market in an English Prison’ was published 7 December 2016.

The findings highlight (1) the scale and nature of synthetic cannabinoid markets in a custodial setting and the motivations for establishing them; (2) the nature and motivations for synthetic cannabinoids use in prison; and (3) the impact synthetic cannabinoid markets in this setting have upon prisoners, the prison system and the wider criminal justice system. Their findings led them to propose a revision of the use of mandatory drug tests (MDTs) in prisons.

We hope to work together to accelerate policy innovation in the field via the curation of a symposium. The symposium will bring together ministers, civil servants, policy experts and stakeholders in the prison system to develop new policies.

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