Drug-taking kits for inmates21st September 2006
The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) has confirmed that a pilot programme has been planned for a controversial scheme to tackle the spread of HIV and hepatitis C in jails by giving personal drug-taking kits to prisoners.
The first to receive the kits, including syringes, swabs, filters and a sharps disposal box, would be prisoners at Craiginches Prison in Aberdeen, where drug-taking among inmates was particularly high. The pilot programme is planned for early next year.
A Glasgow Caledonian University report says prisoners regard the drug problem in Scotland’s jails as unstoppable, a view also voiced last month in a Home Office report which said that drug use was commonplace within prisons in England and Wales.
The view of the SPS is that if the behaviour of prisoners taking drugs could not be changed, the service had a responsibility both to inmates and to prison staff to ensure their safety. The initiative would be modelled on similar schemes in the Republic of Ireland, Switzerland, Germany and Spain. The decision does not need to be approved by ministers, but can be taken at the discretion of the prison service.
A case has been dismissed by the Court of Appeal in London which was brought by a prisoner under human rights laws to have needle exchange programmes introduced in jails in England. The Home Office has not indicated that it will adopt the scheme for England and Wales if the pilot in Scotland is successful.
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