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Reported decline in drug misuse in prison may be illusory

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 12 June 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:1333
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. 1London

A substantial reported decline in prison drug misuse in recent years may be illusory: a report has suggested that prisoners may be learning how to cheat the random tests. It also says that such testing in prisons may be driving prisoners towards harder drugs.

Spending on drug treatment in prisons in England and Wales has increased 10 times since 1997, and the proportion of positive results from random mandatory urine tests has fallen by two thirds over the same period, according to Ministry of Justice figures, from 24.4% in 1997 to 8.8% in 2007.

But a report from the Centre for Policy Studies, a conservative leaning think tank founded by Margaret Thatcher, says that this improvement …

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