Every death in custody is a tragedy, and we are committed to reducing the number of deaths in prisons. We work hard to learn lessons from each death, and we have accepted and acted on the vast majority of recommendations from recent investigations by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, including those relating to new psychoactive substances brought together in the Ombudsman’s bulletin.
NOMS is aware of the increase of the use of these psychoactive substances across the prison estate and there is a wide-ranging programme of work being undertaken to counteract them. This includes joint work with the Home Office on legislation, the Psychoactive Substances Bill, to tackle the supply across the UK. This will allow governors to press for the prosecution of those supplying new psychoactive substances in prisons. Additionally, work is underway to develop new drug tests to detect these substances, and to train drug dogs to detect them, as well as to strengthen perimeter defences. NOMS is also working with the police and Crown Prosecution Service to ensure that there is as effective a response as possible to any new psychoactive substance being brought or thrown into prison. We will continue to explore new methods of preventing drugs coming into prisons such as new generation body scanners. We have also included a clause within the Serious Crime Bill, which with Parliaments agreement will create an offence of throwing or projecting any item over a prison perimeter so that it lands in a prison.
There is a continuing campaign to ensure that all prisoners are aware of the very serious risks that new psychoactive substances bring, and NOMS is working with Public Health England on updating clinical guidance on the management of substance misuse in adult prisons and providing a new psychoactive substances toolkit specifically for prisons.