09:57 GMT16 May 2021
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    It was surprising to hear from the prison that if we were to take drugs, we should take them in a group, a former prisoner turned prison campaigner told Sputnik, as he described the murky world of drug trade and use in British prisons.

    Lack of spending on British prisons has long been a significant part of the national crisis, with a report by the UK Parliament's Public Accounts Committee blaming record levels of self-harming in prisons on "deep-rooted failures".

    The situation is exacerbated by the widespread use of psychoactive substances and drugs in prison wards throughout the country and growing precedents of drug trafficking into prisons by drones and reports of prison staff corruption. 

    Staff strike outside the main gate of the Wormwood Scrubs prison in west London
    © AP Photo / Lefteris Pitarakis
    Staff strike outside the main gate of the Wormwood Scrubs prison in west London

    Having served term in Strangeways and Forest Bank prisons in England, Cody Lachey told Sputnik that during the time on the inside he was himself involved in drug trade and also witness the deadly effect and the widespread prevalence of drugs.

    'This Is How You Take Drugs'

    In the prison if you have money, once a week you'd be able to spend money on toiletries, writing pads, pens, chocolate, coffee, tea, sugar… It is called a canteen sheet. I used to spend 25 pounds a week. It would come in a see-through bag with all the things you've ordered. Within the bag, there would be this folded A4 piece of paper, which would tell you how to safely take new psychoactive substances.

    As prisoners, we obviously knew how many drugs were in the prison and weren't surprised at all. The surprising thing, however, was to hear: "if you gotta take drugs, don't do it on your own, take them in a group of people."

    They then put a diagram on how to put a person in a recovery position. Now, if you are smoking spice (synthetic cannabis) with your friends and one of them has a fit or goes unconscious, they can't even stand up. So to advise us to give first aid to someone on drugs was wrong.

    We don't have medical training, that's the prison officers' job. But they don't have the numbers. Ultimately, they'd tell us how to take drugs, how to chop them up into fine powders; don't share needles and do drugs together.

    Death in Custody

    Darren Rawlinson died of drug overdose on a drug-free wing, which tells you everything you need to know about the prison system. It was a headed sheet of paper, announcing a death in custody. I asked one of the lads to keep the eyes on the office and ripped the sheet of the well and hid it in my cell. They tried to sweep this death under the rug because it was a death in custody, from drugs, on a drug-free wing.

    Drug Wars

    Spice is a drug of choice in prisons. I've seen way too many people under the influence on that drug and it is scary to see. I used to be involved in prison drug trade but this spice — I've never seen anything like it.

    Cannabis, heroin cocaine — anything you can get outside of prison, you can get on the inside. The only difference is that the drug on the streets will have a certain price. As soon it crosses the threshold and gets into a prison, that price can go up to ten times of the street value. In prison, you have to sell it for the premium.

    © CC0 / Pixabay

    There are drug wars going on in prisons as drug dealers are attacking and cutting each other. Drug trade at the end of the day is a business and in prison it is very lucrative. So much so that prison officers are getting in on the action, they are smuggling drugs into prisons as well. If you've got people on the wing selling the same drug, they are forced to bring the prices down.

    When it comes to drug deals in prisons, there are these big lads with hard reputations. You have to be above them, bigger and harder than them to take them out. When a drug dealer sees another dealer who, say, is small in stature and is known to have drugs in his anal cavity, they will hold him down and try to pull the drugs out. They will threaten him or beat him up.

    Still the safest place in prison to store the drugs are in one's anal cavity because you have got fewer chances of them being found by prison officers.

    From Drones to Walls: Sources of Drugs

    It will change from prison to prison. Drones are one source. Drugs coming through visits, via prison officers. In some prisons, it is coming through the walls. People are getting out and then breach parole on purpose, having plugged the drugs into their anal cavity, which is called the "prison pocket," to get back to the prison with drugs. Once on the inside, they defecate it out and break it down into individual deals and then sell it on the wing for maximum profit.

    A drone intercepted by police as it was being flown near a north London prison is seen in this handout photograph released on August 22, 2016, in London, Britain.
    A drone intercepted by police as it was being flown near a north London prison is seen in this handout photograph released on August 22, 2016, in London, Britain.

    People make a lot of money on drug trade in prisons. I know lads who send a couple of hundred pounds per week to their girlfriends.

    Every person who goes into prison, whether a member of staff, a nurse, a civilian contractor, a chaplain, a prisoner, a prisoner's family — everybody should be search for possession of drugs. The amount of prison officers bringing drugs into prisons is astronomical.

    Prisoner Rules

    Drugs are as much part of prison life as the understaffing, the death in custody, the record numbers of assault and the record numbers of self-harm. Where you have contraband, you've got debt. Where you've got debt — you got fear, intimidation, bullying and violence.

    There is no law and order in prison. You've got prison rules and you've got prisoner rules. You can break the prison rules but if you break the prisoner rules — you can end up being attacked, stabbed, get hot water and sugar thrown in your face. Prisoner rules come before prison rules.

    Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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