Posted on 4 October 2017
Research led by the University of York found that many prisoners experienced a ‘cliff edge’, receiving little or no professional support in the weeks preceding or following release, and were housed in inappropriate hostels or funded B&Bs where drugs and prostitution were rife.
The researchers conclude that without adequate support on release, those who have served their time are likely to relapse and reoffend, no matter how good the support received in prison.
The report is based on a substantial evaluation of the Government-funded Drug Recovery Wings (DRWs) pilot in prisons, carried out by researchers from the Centre for Substance Use Research in Glasgow and the Universities of Cambridge and York.
Pilot DRWs were set up in 10 prisons across England and Wales between 2011 and 2012: Brinsford, Brixton, High Down, Holme House, Manchester, Swansea, Chelmsford, Bristol, Styal and New Hall. Their aims included ‘challenging offenders to come off drugs’and delivering abstinence-focused drug recovery services.
The new report published today, Evaluation of the Drug Recovery Wing Pilots, presents the findings from the major evaluation, which was funded by the NIHR Policy Research Programme, and involved 345 interviews and analysis of questionnaire data from over 1,800 prisoners. The four-year study assessed what impact DRWs had on prisoners’ drug or alcohol dependency and their impact on prisoners’ reoffending.
In their report, the researchers conclude that new models of treatment and through-care that link effective approaches in prison with well-resourced, post-release support for prisoners recovering from substance misuse must be made a priority.
Principal Investigator Charlie Lloyd, of the University of York’s Department of Social Policy and Social Work, said: “It’s important to recognise that some of the pilot DRWs offered promising approaches, involving dedicated staff working with prisoners who wanted to make real changes to their lives. Unfortunately these plans often came to nought on release.
“We have to ask ourselves whether any of us could make any radical changes to our lives, if we were forced to live in the type of environments many of our ex-prisoner interviewees had to live in on release. Going forward, there is pressing need to give prisoners with a history of drug dependence a realistic chance of making positive changes to their lives once they have served their time and been released from prison.”
The study’s key findings are:
The report draws on a four-year, multi-method evaluation of the ten pilot Drug Recovery Wings. This research included interviews with prison officers, therapeutic staff and prison governors in the ten prisons, and follow-up questionnaires and interviews with cohorts of prisoners within DRWs and then on release in the community.
The report is based on independent research commissioned and funded by the NIHR Policy Research Programme (project title: Drug Recovery Wing (DRW) Pilots Evaluation).
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For further information on the NIHR visit the website www.nihr.ac.uk.