Intended for healthcare professionals


Drug taking in prisons: the inside story

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 07 April 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:853
  1. David Crosby, honorary consultant surgeon (
  1. University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff

    On retirement from surgery I took up a number of different interests, one of which was to join the independent monitoring board of our local prison. This is an improved title for what used to be known as prisons' boards of visitors. We are appointed by the Home Office, and essentially our duties involve visiting the prison on a regular basis and monitoring whether prisoners are being treated decently and fairly under existing prison rules. We make confidential inquiries for them if they believe they aren't being treated properly and representations if they seem to be justified. I believe the system works very well. Had there been something similar in Iraq, I doubt we would now be hearing the recent horror stories coming from its prisons.

    The foremost requirement for this kind of work is to believe that no matter what awful things people have done or how unpleasant they continue to be they must still be treated decently as human beings. Secondly, we encourage as best as we …

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