NHS input urged for jail alcohol strategy

The Prison Reform Trust has urged the Prison Service to work with
the NHS on an alcohol strategy to reduce re-offending rates.

Just over 40,000 of the 60,000 sentenced prisoners are hazardous
alcohol users. Severe alcohol dependency affects about 20,000, many
of whom are young people who have committed violent offences.

Although the Prison Service is drawing up an alcohol harm reduction
strategy, the charity fears no extra resources will be made
available. Without them, it would be “unrealistic to expect prisons
to improve interventions”, it says.

There is no expectation on prisons to develop alcohol strategies. A
Prison Service survey found just one jail had a dedicated strategy
in place. There are also no ring-fenced budgets for alcohol

The health assessment of prisoners does not involve a targeted
screening programme to identify hazardous drinkers.

Although short-term prisoners are not eligible for the drug
treatment programmes that include an alcohol element, the charity
claims that even longer-sentence prisoners who receive treatment
are unlikely to receive post-custody support because of the “benign
neglect” of community-based alcohol services.

Many prison staff have expressed concern that alcohol misuse among
young offenders is rising.

The trust is calling for more community support after prison,
ring-fenced alcohol treatment programmes and courts to divert
non-violent offenders with alcohol problems into community
treatment programmes or education schemes.

– Report from enver.solomon@prisonreformtrust.org.uk

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