Scotland’s prisons are awash with legal highs leading to significant concerns for the safety of inmates, it has been claimed.
The governor of Perth Prison, Mike Inglis, warned that lack of information about the contents of many of the ‘pyscho-substances’ makes it incredibly difficult to gauge their impact on the prison setting.
Mr Inglis also told The Courier that traditional methods of preventing drugs from entering prisons, such as dogs, would not prove effective in halting their spread.
While prison authorities in Scotland are trying to clamp down on the scourge of hard drugs, Mr Inglis said some prisoners are using pyscho-substances, which he states are beginning to “gain prominence” and he described as “dangerous.”
Incidents of people taking legal highs appear to be on the increase with two young men being taken to hospital in Aberdeen last month after swallowing unknown substances.
Mr Inglis said HM Perth Prison is still “delivering and dealing” with substance misuse, but highlighted the prevalence of some inmates using legal highs and the difficulties involved in dealing with them.
“Perth Prison is like an area of Perth, Dundee or Angus there will be issues of substance misuse,” he said. “Legal highs pyscho-substances are starting to gain prominence.
“My drug dogs can detect and deter in terms of controlled substances but we have to look at what strategy we have along with our community partners in terms of legal highs.”
He continued: “The SPS as a whole and HMP Perth have worked in partnership with the Scottish Government Drug policy unit and Police Scotland to raise awareness around these new psychoactive substances to ensure that staff and prisoners are fully aware of the dangers of using these substances.
“The term ‘legal high’ is not accurate bearing in mind the contents of some of these substances and the serious implications they may have on individuals and communities as a whole.
“We’ve had the police in here to tell our staff about the threats and the risks of these psychoactive substances.
“There is a shop selling legal highs in Perth and there’s one in Arbroath. Is it a legal issue or a trading standards issue? There’s emergency legislation that can get brought in but the big concern for me is that some of this stuff is dangerous.
“Those prisoners identified as misusing prescribed medication or having taken new psychoactive substances will be referred to the NHS addiction services for appropriate assessment, treatment and support.”