Monday, October 19, 2009

Bag Rats

One of the many terms for a heroin addict. None of the slang is complimentary, reflecting the devious and desperate lives that addicts experience. The next bag, or the next tenner to buy that bag, is the sole object of their existence. Morality, decency, all that makes us human appears to be relegated to being a sliver of their consciousness.

This was only brought home to me when I was sitting out on the landing with Tony. Tony was 'the man', one of a handful in the nick who had large reserves of cash and cannabis.

A smackhead arrived. He wanted to borrow twenty quid from Tony. He wasn't having much luck; Tony didn't know him and treated all smackheads as poor financial risks.

Hard bargaining ensued. The smackhead eventually left with his money, having sold his trainers and spectacles to Tony. He ran back to his mates, cash in hand, barefooted and half blind - but very happy. It made me shudder.


  1. Are the cold turkeys going to vote for Christmas?

  2. I'm guessing you already saw this:

  3. I will be on ITV News at 6.30 tonight discussing these prison transfers.

  4. It would be interesting Ben for you to comment on how you have managed to remain clean, if you have an insight into that of course.

    This story of course all highlights how poor drug treatment programs are and how hard to access. Since drugs are behind so much crime that sees people banged up it would seem a no brainer to take the opportunity to get people clean while they are inside.

  5. It is very sad. I hate it too when I feel more could be done to stop drugs getting into prison. I am concerned about the health aspect as sharing needles etc may well increase the transfer of Aids and Hep C. In the community needles are readily available. A research paper from the Home Office a few years ago studied how drugs were smuggled in to prisons and as to be expected by far the greatest means was visits by relatives or friends, then mail, new receptions, prison staff etc etc. We have also read about tennis balls being tossed over perimeter walls.

    I read that the drug trade in the UK is worth £5bn and the government spends £1.5bn trying to overcome it. All well and good but if reports that over 50% of prisoners are imprisoned for drug offences then something must be done when they are serving a sentence of imprisonment. I am not sure that depite efforts by many prisons that they can provide a quality service for users. I do think we expect a lot from prisons - safe incarceration, looking after the mentally ill, drug users etc etc.

    The government continues to pour money into treatment but it seems to be a never ending struggle. I also read that treatment costs vary greatly between regions of the country and astonishingly some the NE can cost £2400, whilst the East £730. This disparity must reduce places available?

    So it seems that we continue to have drug strategies and research giving us extremely useful information and yet we have been unable to control the drug trade in prisons. It is a sad reflection on us all. The government intend introducing technology to block mobile phone use in prison. This may assist in some drug trafficking. I just wish more could be done. Surely it is not beyond us?

  6. Drugs? The biggest killers in this country, are alcohol and tobacco. These are both drugs, but sold to a public who are too f---ed in the head to notice, or care. There are serious drugs out there which keep the zombies ticking. These are small in number compared to the drugs of the government, namely cigarettes and alcohol