Inmates’ ‘legal highs’ making jail staff sick in England

Prison officers in England are falling ill after inhaling ‘legal highs’ used by inmates.

Union bosses reported that staff are being taken to hospital suffering from the effects of breathing in the fumes of new psychoactive substances (NPS) such as Spice and Black Mamba, which mimic the effects of cannabis.

In one incident last week, seven officers reported suffering ill effects, according to the Prison Officers Association (POA).

Steve Gillan, general secretary of the union, said they were searching a cell when they came across a large quantity of NPS.

“They all then complained of nausea. They were seen by the healthcare department and signed off duty,” he said.

Anonymous accounts from officers laid bare the impact of NPSs. One described noticing a “sweet smell” and “smoky atmosphere” before starting to feel unwell, saying his heart was racing and his head felt like it would “pop”.

Another officer experienced a “crushing” chest pain and dizziness followed by what felt like a severe hangover.

The prisons watchdog has warned that NPSs are the most serious threat to the safety and security of jails.

The POA is launching a judicial review in an attempt to speed up a blanket ban on smoking in prisons.


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