Keep prisons drug-free
AS OF Sunday night the prison service was unable to confirm or deny that drug abuse was connected to the hospitalisation of two inmates of a youth detention centre on the outskirts of south Belfast.
Four other inmates were reportedly treated on site at Hydebank Wood College on Friday evening, with some reports suggesting that drug use was connected to the incident.
Whether or not illegal substances were the cause is significant but even if they are found not to have been the cause, the question of how such a comparitively high number of inmates required medical treatment from the one incident needs to be answered.
It is well-known that drugs are available in many, if not all, prisons and offender detention centres. So it might come as no real surprise if they are confirmed as the cause on this occastion.
However, because we are not surprised does not mean we should not be worried. People are detained like this as a punishment or to keep the rest of society safe. Nevertheless, inmates need to be kept safe, even if that means protecting them from their own actions, whether that be an action of deliberate self-harm or one of substance abuse.
As we have seen in recent weeks, the range of drugs of available for users is wide and some of them, such as opium-based substances, have become ever more lethal as unscrupulous dealers are happy to supply all sorts of poison, so long as they can make a profit
It is important therefore that every effort is made to keep prisons and detention centres drug-free if possible or at least attempt to intercept the bulk of substances before they are smuggled into such facilities.