London’s Brixton Prison run by Her Majesty’s Prison Service is facing media attention with the release of a report from an authorised invigilator for the facility. The report reveals the on-going concern of Cannabissmoking amongst the inmates that officers are constantly endeavouring to deal with. Because of the incessant smoking of Cannabis by inmates, officers’ uniforms reek with the strong odour the drug emits. Board members who also walk through these wings, often leave with the stench on their clothing.
While drugs have always been a problem in the prison system, Cannabis is no exception. Not only is it a popular drug amongst inmates in the system, Cannabis still remains the UK’s most widely used illegal drug outside the prison society. While continuous research is done on the positive usage of the substance and activists are fighting for a regulated market following the United State’s example, the drug remains illegal within the UK.
The smell of Cannabis on employees’ clothing is only the tip of the ice-burg. This surface problem reveals other disturbing concerns that need to be addressed. According to the report, drugs should not be easily accessible and this “major concern” encourages behaviours that should not be tolerated such as “gambling, indebtedness, bullying and intimidation”.
An official spokesperson for the prison has stated that swift action is always the speed to which they deal with the prison’s problems including serious reprimand for drug offenders. He also states, “The number of prisoners testing positive for drug misuse has fallen.” This report has led to the promise of “more searches of all types in future” which will also include prison employees being subject to searches and testing. Although inmates that are suspected of drug use are tested by staff, the report indicates that it doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should due to under-staffing.
This isn’t the first time Brixton Prison has been under the microscope. In 2012, they were scrutinised in a similar report that reflected the lack of quality and sufficient education and training programmes that would encourage rehabilitation and preparation for joining society after sentences were served in prison.