The Forward Trust Responds to Justice Secretary’s Prison Speech
Tuesday 06 March 2018

Mike Trace, Forward CEO, said: “Prisons are struggling with unprecedented levels of violence and drug use. It’s vital that the prison drug market is undermined, and the key is to expand access to effective evidence-based drug treatment. Whilst today’s announcement outlines measures to reduce the supply of drugs, more must be done to reduce the demand. More than half of new arrivals in prison are daily users of drugs or dependent on alcohol. Most seek to continue using inside and - if a way isn’t found to turn them away from the dealer and towards treatment and recovery - their demand fuels the profits of the gangs, which itself is behind most of the violence, disorder, and health emergencies in prison today.

“We call on the new Secretary of State for Justice to tackle the issue by prioritising effective drug treatment in the criminal justice system.”
Over half of all prisoners (55%) report committing offences connected to their drug taking (1). Forward has seen a seven-fold increase in the use of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) (2). Whilst reducing access to drugs will assist the problem we need to tackle addiction.

Independent research shows that Forward’s intensive rehabilitation treatment programme leads to a 20% reduction in the numbers of released prisoners reoffending, and a 65% reduction in the overall number of offences (3).

Only 600 prisoners per year get access to these programmes, less than half of the number just 4 years ago. This represents less than 2% of the number of prisoners who could use their time in custody to get treatment and recovery – a huge missed opportunity.

Forward also welcomes the Secretary of State's commitment to prioritising education and employment for prisoners, including the review of the use of Release on Temporary License (ROTL) to allow more serving prisoners to find employment and the proposed new strategy on employment and education. We know from experience that employment is one of the key factors in reducing reoffending – our Blue Sky Agency employment model reduces re-offending by up to 23%, one of the highest performing interventions on record – and look forward to learning more about the new strategy when it is unveiled in due course.

Footnotes
1. Hansard, Written answers and statements, 21 October 2014 http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2014-09-26/209374 NB: Only data for the first seven months of 2014 is available and the total figure for 2014 of 737 is an estimate based on available data.
2. NPS use is captured and recorded in the assessments conducted by RAPt staff on all new referrals to its prison-based substance misuse services. The figures from each of the prison services are collated on a quarterly basis to gain an overall picture of use of NPS by prisoners referred to RAPt
3. Kopak, A. M., Dean, L. V., Proctor, S. L., Miller, L., & Hoffmann, N. G. (2014) ‘Effectiveness of the rehabilitation for addicted prisoners trust (RAPt) programme’, Journal of Substance Use, [Online] pp.1-8. Available from: doi:10.3109/14659891.2014.904938.