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Prisoners Release: Overdoses

Volume 476: debated on Monday 19 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many ex-offenders died from a heroin overdose within a fortnight of leaving prison in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. (205443)

Data showing the number of ex-offenders who died from a heroin overdose within a fortnight of leaving prison are not routinely collected.

The most recent research evidence from a study which reported in 2005 showed that the drug related death rate for prisoners during the year following release was 5.2 per 1,000 for men and 5.9 per 1,000 for women (Farrell and Marsden, 2005); The rate was much higher immediately after release. In the first week the rate for men was around seven times higher than the annual rate and for women around eight times higher; in the second week, the rates were, respectively, around four times and six and a half times the annual rate.

A comprehensive drug treatment framework is in place in prisons with a particular focus on reducing drug related deaths including:

the Integrated Drug Treatment System (IDTS) designed to reduce the risk through the improved quality of clinical treatment;

harm minimisation advice and throughcare services provided through the Counselling, Advice, Referral and Throughcare services (CARATs) linked to the Drug Interventions Programme (DIP) help to ensure that the continuity of care for offenders is maintained following release from prison into the community; and

post-custody supervision: a number of initiatives have been put in place to reduce the risk of drug-related death following release from prison.