Opioid Crisis

Spice Epidemic Fears and Naloxone Controversy Grip UK Prisons

Main image to the post Spice Epidemic Fears and Naloxone Controversy Grip UK Prisons

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) is concerned about a potential epidemic of spice laced with dangerous synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, entering prisons. This concern has been voiced by Mark Fairhurst, Chairman of the Prison Officers' Association (POA). He highlights the alarming situation where prison officers are being asked to carry and administer Naloxone, an injectable antidote for opioid overdoses, despite lacking medical training.

Fairhurst criticizes this directive, stating that prison officers are not nurses and are not equipped to handle such medical emergencies. He points out the irony of being prohibited from providing basic first aid, like paracetamol or a plaster, but now being expected to administer a prescription drug.

Adding to the concern, Fairhurst reveals that the MOJ is worried about a new influx of spice contaminated with nitazenes and fentanyl. He further criticizes the MOJ's reluctance to implement measures to prevent drug smuggling, such as drone blocking equipment and permanent dedicated dog units.

Fairhurst suggests that the MOJ should focus on preventing drugs from entering prisons in the first place. He advocates for consistent use of enhanced security measures at prison gates, utilizing technology to deter drones, and reinstating dog units to detect drugs before they reach prisoners.

In response, an MOJ spokesperson stated that each prison with enhanced gate entry technology determines the best use of resources and timings for searches. They also claim that most prisons have dedicated dog handler resources, supplemented by regional and national support when needed.

Regarding drones, the MOJ asserts that they are working with criminal justice colleagues to prosecute those using drones for criminal purposes in prisons. They are also employing technology to deter drone use and developing plans for further action in this area.

Regarding Naloxone, the MOJ clarifies that prison staff are being trained on a voluntary basis to administer nasal Naloxone in emergencies. They emphasize that since the introduction of nasal Naloxone in prisons in early 2024, they have been collaborating with NHS colleagues and Substance Misuse Service providers to expand training access and ensure all prisons have trained staff. They also confirm that Naloxone is available to health professionals.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09