2. Tackling Spice
- Tackling Spice
Harrowing scenes of people deeply intoxicated on 'spice' have become regular features in the media. These novel psychoactive substances have risen in popularity as very cheap and potent drugs. Spice use rates are highest among prisoners and the homeless, and there is a great deal of cross-over between these two vulnerable groups. Addressing the harms spice use causes to wider society and users requires serious measures to tackle the crisis in our prisons and rising rates of homelessness.
We must take the opportunity presented in prisons to reduce the demand for drugs and thereby reduce the scale of prison drug markets. Spice use in prisons fuels indebtedness among inmates, excessive profit for drug dealers, corruption of staff, violence, hospitalisations and other major harms which disrupt the normal functioning of our prisons. Measures must be taken to improve the staff to prisoner ratio, ensure busy prisoner regimes to tackle boredom and distress, improve dynamic security and create an effective system of monitoring drug use and drug markets which draws on the knowledge of staff and inmates.
Reducing the harms associated with spice use among the homeless requires the development of a joined up approach utilising and empowering local services. A health and social approach will be key to reduce the burden on police, and maximise limited budgets. A joined up approach to mental health services, health services, policing, housing and employment is needed to recognise the root causes of demand for these potent drugs.