More than half of prison staff have been exposed to psychoactive substances, with 39% feeling ill as a result, according to poll

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18th June 2019 14:49 - Central Government

More than half of prison staff have been exposed to psychoactive substances, with 39% feeling ill as a result: A revealing new survey of 1600 prison staff working at over 100 sites across England and Wales has found that more than half (53%) have been exposed to psychoactive drugs including spice while at work. It also found that more than a third (39%) have felt ill after being exposed to these substances.

The research titled, Safe Inside: report on health and safety in prisons found symptoms after exposure ncluded feeling dizzy, confused or tired (97%)  feeling sick or vomiting (49.4), an increased heart rate or rise in blood-pressure (34%) while over a quarter (28%) reported anxiety and paranoia.

Conducted by the Joint Unions Prisons Alliance (JUPA), the survey also found that almost two-thirds  (63%) of prison officers and staff reported feeling unsafe at the prison they worked at over the last year.

Violence reported in prisons 

A quarter (26%) of staff working in prisons had experienced physical violence towards them in the last year, with 14% of those respondents saying they'd been subjected to physical violence multiple times over the last 12 months. 

Discussing the process of reporting an assault to their employer, more than half (57%) were unhappy with the action taken. In a further fifth of cases no action was taken at all, according to respondents.

Just 9.9% of those polled are 'confident' or 'reasonably confident' that the situation will get better in the coming year.

Brian Morton, co-Chair of the JUPA and National Officer at the Royal College of Nursing said:

"Drug use is literally poisoning the atmosphere in our prisons, forcing some staff to carry out their duties while experiencing secondary effects.  This is a new low in the history of our penal system and must be addressed as a matter of priority."

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