New prison guidelines have been issued encouraging non disciplinary action against prisoners who are caught with drugs, hooch (home brewed alcohol), or caught in the act of sex. Penalties for sex, drugs and alcohol in UK Prisons will be relaxed.
The new set of Prison Service Rules further states that inmates will receive no punishment for absconding – providing they are returned to lock up within 48 hours.
Prison Governors will face a mountain of red tape if they go against the guidelines. For example, if choose to proceed with disciplinary action for finding alcohol in UK prison cells.
These shocking new rules and regulations set a precedence for a more relaxed and less punishing regime for UK prisoners. Will they take full advantage?
Small Amounts of Drugs To Be Overlooked By Authorities
According to The Sunday Express and Express, prisoners caught with illegal drugs should be recorded as having possession of “an unauthorised article”. This is instead of possession of an illicit substance. This will apply unless a large amount of drugs are seized. In this case, samples will be sent to laboratories for testing so an illicit substance can be confirmed.
Prisons across the UK have been battling an ongoing drug problem for many years. Drugs are frequently sneaked into prisons using various tactics.
Where long term recovery from drug addiction and alcoholism should be the ultimate goal, the rules do nothing to support substance misuse reduction or rehabilitation.
Those that possess drugs or alcohol in UK prisons tend to use them for personal use. Alternatively, thye gain from them because drugs hold a higher value inside than they do outside on the streets.
Implementing laxer regulations will only add to an already growing problem.
Intoxicated Prisoners Won’t Be Penalised
The Prison Service regulations state that disciplinary charges should not be brought if the prisoners are “exuberant but still manageable”. This rule in itself lacks definition. There is a fine line between being intoxicated and manageable and being intoxicated and unmanageable. Prisoners are expected to control this for themselves.
Step by Step Recovery know that addicts are very unlikely to be able to control their drinking. They are addicts and cannot control their using to any manageable extent.
Prison officers are being told to record any seized Hooch (a strong alcoholic drink brewed by prisoners) as “a fermenting liquid”. This avoids expensive scientific lab tests and paperwork to prove the presence of alcohol when prisoners dispute the liquid’s nature.
By confiscating and not penalizing prisoners for the seizure of Hooch, surely this will encourage misuse?
The rules go on to say that sexual acts between prisoners are not necessarily disciplinary matters either. Where “two prisoners sharing a cell are in a relationship and engage in sexual activity during the night when they have a reasonable expectation of privacy” they will not be chraged.
Is The Prison System Failing Civilians?
It is clear that more tolerance will be shown towards the possession and use of drugs and alcohol in UK prisons. And also that sexual acts (providing kept private) will be more acceptable.
This begs the question… are prisoners really being punished for their crimes or merely being given a home from home environment? Where is the rehabilitation that could be provided at the British taxpayers expense?
As a result, for some repeat offenders suffering from addiction who have few resources the threat of prison is unlikely to act as an effective deterrent. They see no choice other than to commit crime.
Some addicts who are homeless may even welcome the idea of a prison sentence as a break from society and the pressures of daily living.
Tory MP Sir William Cash told the Express Newspaper, who reported on the change in prison service procedures: “Prison is about justice and punishment. This is a step too far. This is an invitation to criminals to believe the prison service has gone soft.”
Step by Step Recovery who specialise in treating alcoholism and drug addiction. They agree that this will only give prisoners more freedom to progress their addiction whilst incarcerated instead of addressing it.
Predicted Increase in Drug-Addicted Prisoners
With the new rules being implemented next month, Step by Step Recovery feel that the number of drug addicted prisoners will increase.
There is already a sizeable drug problem in many of Britain’s prisons. Therefore things can only get worse. Whilst punishment does not cure addiction there is a strong possibility of prisons struggling to maintain control.
Drug and alcohol intoxication does not always induce desired effects. Some individuals can become aggressive, violent or even suicidal whilst under the influence. In an already volatile and overcrowded environment the result of relaxed rules could be disastrous.
Last year four prisons were subjected to the “urgent notification” process, following reports of unruly prisoners, obvious drug use, violence towards inmates and violence towards officers.
During an inspection at HMP Bedford, one of the four jails issued with a urgent notification process, 5 male inmates admitted to acquiring a drug habit whilst serving their sentence in the Cat B male prison.
So introduction of slacker regulations will only foster growth of addiction and substance misuse within Britain’s prisons. This will ultimately have a knock on effect on the wider community. It will put added pressure on the already buckling community drug and alcohol teams.
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