Category Archives: Prisons & Probation Ombudsman

Approved premises need more effective focus on drug testing and managing the risks of substance abuse, says Ombudsman

 

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Approved Premise (APs), home to people released from prison or on bail or court orders, need more effective drug testing practices and better staff guidance to identify and address the risks associated with substance misuse, and support individuals, according to a report by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO).

Overdoses of opiate and other drugs, including alcohol, by people released from prison remain a significant risk, the PPO ‘Learning Lessons’ bulletin found. People are at a higher risk of overdose if they slip back into drug and alcohol use after periods of abstinence or detoxification.

The bulletin – Approved Premises – substance misusebased on findings from deaths in APs investigated by the PPO also raised significant concerns about New Psychoactive Substances (NPS). These range from stimulants to hallucinogens and are commonly seen in prisons and the community as synthetic cannabinoids, known by names such as Spice and Mamba.

Elizabeth Moody, the acting Ombudsman, said: “The rise of New Psychoactive Substance use in the prison estate is well documented and is widely recognised, in the words of the previous Ombudsman, as a “game-changer”. However, it is clear from our investigations that the implications of NPS for the AP estate have not yet been fully understood or addressed by the National Probation Service (which is responsible for APs).”

The PPO examined 29 of their investigations into AP deaths that were drug-related, or where there was a history of substance misuse. The bulletin expressed concern that testing for NPS in APs “appears to lag behind that in prisons and does not draw on the experience of prisons”. One case study in the bulletin discloses that AP staff were unable to test a man despite their concern he had taken NPS.

The PPO found some good practice in the management and care for those who misuse drugs and alcohol. However, Elizabeth Moody added, “we also see cases with too little focus on the risk of relapse and overdose.”

Some of the PPO investigations identified deficiencies in information sharing and in welfare checks. The bulletin made a number of recommendations relating to:

  • Ensuring a good flow of information between stakeholders, which is critical, particularly for managing substance misuse where there is a clear requirement for effective multi-disciplinary working. PPO investigations found this did not always happen.
  • Checks on the welfare of AP residents – another important way to ensure the risks associated with substance abuse are well managed. PPO investigations found checks were not always carried out effectively.
  • An overarching need for the National Probation Service to improve the AP manual to give staff better guidance on NPS use, information sharing and making welfare checks.

Elizabeth Moody said:

“We know offenders can be at heightened risk of death following their release into the community. I hope this bulletin will help AP staff apply the learning from our investigations to improve the ways they identify, monitor and address the risk factors associated with substance misuse.”

The bulletin is available here – https://www.ppo.gov.uk/?p=10336

Prison Deaths From New Psychoactive Substances Rises To 79 Says Ombudsman

The number of prisoner deaths in which the use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) may have played a part has now risen to at least 79, said Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) Nigel Newcomen. Tonight (11/7/2017) he addressed the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Penal Affairs at the House of Lords. Looking back at his six-year… Continue Reading

Older Prisoners: 4 Years & 5 Justice Secretary’s After Justice Committee Produced A Report on Older Prisoners – Still No Progress

HM Prison and Probation Service needs a national strategy to address the needs of the increasing numbers of elderly prisoners living – and dying – in jail so that they can be managed and cared for more appropriately, said Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) Nigel Newcomen. Today he published a report on older prisoners. One… Continue Reading

Six prison homicides in one year reflect unacceptable level of prison violence, says Ombudsman

Homicides in prison are still rare but the number has increased, vividly illustrating the unacceptable level of violence in prisons in England and Wales, said Nigel Newcomen, Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO). Today he published a bulletin on lessons that can be learned from his investigations. The PPO investigates all deaths in custody and his… Continue Reading

Better Safety Must Underpin Prison Reform Says Ombudsman As Suicides, Homicides and Deaths From Natural Causes Reach Record Levels

The past year saw a 34% rise in prison suicides, more deaths from natural causes and the highest number of homicides in prison for many years, said Prisons and Probation Ombudsman Nigel Newcomen. Today he published his fifth and final annual report and warned that prison reform could stall without a focus on safety and… Continue Reading

Use of Force ‘should be a last resort in Jails’ says Ombudsman

Staff face enormous challenges in keeping order and control in prisons, and the use of force must always be an option, but it should be a measure of last resort, said Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) Nigel Newcomen. Today he published a bulletin on further lessons that can be learned from investigations into complaints about… Continue Reading

Prison staff missing vital clues about prisoner suicide risks says Ombudsman

Staff in prisons need to get better at spotting and using essential information about the risk of suicide among prisoners, said Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) Nigel Newcomen. Today he published a bulletin on the lessons that can be learned from investigations into the self-inflicted deaths of prisoners within the first month of custody. This… Continue Reading

MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES FOR PRISONERS NEED TO IMPROVE FURTHER, SAYS OMBUDSMAN

Some improvement has been made in managing the mental health needs of prisoners, but there is still a long way to go, said Prisons and Probation Ombudsman Nigel Newcomen. Today he published a review on prisoner mental health arising from his investigations into deaths in custody. Mental ill-health is one of the most prevalent and… Continue Reading

Inmate dies after prison assault

A prisoner who was allegedly punched by another inmate at HMP Rochester has died. Fraser Stent, 28, died in hospital a week after the alleged incident at HMP Rochester, a Prison Service spokeswoman said. Kent Police were called to the jail on October 12 and a 23-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of assault and… Continue Reading

PRISON SERVICE NEEDS TO ACT TO REDUCE SUICIDES, SAYS OMBUDSMAN

  Prisons must improve how they risk assess, monitor and care for prisoners to help prevent suicides, said Nigel Newcomen, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO). Today he published two reports on the lessons that can be learned from PPO investigations into self-inflicted deaths in custody. There has been a sharp and troubling increase in… Continue Reading

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