VolteFace is growing and I’m the newest member of the team. My first assignment is a report into policy options addressing the drug problem in our prisons.
Work is already underway. Some readers may have attended last week’s fascinating debate at VolteFace HQ; Betwixt and Between: Prisons and Drug Reform. Or read my short piece on User Voice’s insightful and chilling report on the use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) in prisons: Spice: The Bird Killer.
Spice/Black Mamba/NPS/formerly-legal highs, call them what you will, the use of these substances has risen meteorically in UK prisons. Along with this rise are tales of increased levels of violence, self-harm and hospitalisations. The report seeks to evaluate this recent phenomenon in the wider context of drug-use in our society, and our increasingly over-crowded and under-staffed prisons.
The report seeks to inform the upcoming reforms to UK prisons, providing alternatives to the long-standing “zero tolerance” rhetoric which has prevailed, despite prisons remaining the places in our society in which drug use is most rife.
I will be drawing on the expertise of NGOs, prison officers, governors, prisoners, drug treatment workers, civil servants, politicians and everyone in between. If you think that your voice could add to the debate, please get in touch.
George McBride is currently writing a report on drug reform in prisons. Tweets @GeorgeMcBride1
Watch our debate on drugs and prison reform – ‘Betwixt and Between’