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‘Prisons not always using scanners’ despite fears of fentanyl-laced spice epidemic | UK | News

'Prisons not always using scanners' despite fears of fentanyl-laced spice epidemic | UK | News

THE Ministry of Justice fears an epidemic of spice laced with potentially deadly synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, could get into jails, the boss of the prison officers’ union has warned.

POA Chairman Mark Fairhurst said officers were being asked to carry and administer an injectable antidote called Naloxone, due to fears over a surge in overdoses, despite not being medically trained.

He said: “The latest idea from your employer is Naloxone, a prescription drug, which is administered to those that overdose on opioids.

“Our employer is also about to issue us with an annex forcing us to carry and administer Naloxone. The last time I looked I was a prison officer, not a nurse.

“I remember the day I was told I can’t give a prisoner a paracetamol out of our own supply if they have got a headache and that you can’t give a plaster to a cut finger in case of an allergic reaction, but all of a sudden I can now administer a prescription drug.”

He added: “And our employer is worried sick about another influx of spice that is contaminated with nitazenes and even worse fentanyl.”

He also said most drugs were thrown over prison walls or delivered by drone, but the MOJ refused to allow drone blocking equipment, for fear of one falling onto a prisoner.

Most prisons below category A also no longer have permanent dedicated dog units that could sniff out drugs before prisoners got to them, he added.

He said: “Well here’s an idea. Why don’t we stop it at source? Why not use all that sexy new security at the gates all the time day and night, whenever anyone comes in and whenever anyone leaves.

“Let’s get it in operation all the time. Why don’t we use technology to stop drones and why don’t we bring back dog sections, so when drugs are thrown over the wall, the four-legged shark gets there before the two legged criminal?”

An MOJ spokesman said: “In prisons with enhanced gate entry technology, it is for each site to determine the best use of resources and timings of searches.

“Most prisons in England and Wales have a dedicated dog handler resource, supplemented by regional and national resources when needed.

“We continue to work with criminal justice colleagues to find and prosecute those who seek to use drones for criminal purposes in our prisons. We are also using technology to deter their use and continue to develop plans for further work in this area.

“At present we are training prison staff on a voluntary basis to administer nasal naloxone in emergency situations. Since the introduction of nasal naloxone in prison settings from early 2024, HMPPS has been working with NHS colleagues and Substance Misuse Service (SMS) providers to widen access to training and ensure all prisons have trained staff within their workforce. Naloxone is also available to health professionals.”

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