Legal high use in prisons getting worse

Legal High use in Prisons

Novel Psychoactive substances (NPS) or legal highs seem to regularly make the headlines. Whether it’s the legislation change, or a victim sharing their story – NPSs remain topical amongst all parts of society.

Recently, in what was thought to be the first crime of its kind, Daniel Kelly was jailed for 14 months for delivering legal highs into several prisons via a drone. This is just one example of how they have been getting in to prisons, but the influx would suggest there are quite a few channels making them available. Such is the widespread use of these drugs, they have been credited with causing prisons in the UK to become, ‘unacceptably violent and dangerous places’.

For example, Lewes Prison has seen a 45% rise in assaults with the top inspector linking violence to legal highs. Peter Clarke, the chief inspector of prisons has said:

“A large part of this violence is linked to the harm caused by new psychoactive substances which are having a dramatic and destabilising effect in many of our prisons.

The effects of these drugs can be unpredictable and extreme. Their use can be linked to attacks on other prisoners and staff, self-inflicted deaths, serious illness and life-changing self-harm.”

In response, Justice Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: “The level of violence in our prisons is unacceptable. I am clear that safety in prisons is fundamental to the proper functioning of our justice system and a vital part of our reform plans.

There are a number of factors, including the availability of psychoactive substances in prisons, which must be tackled.”

About Randox Testing Services

NPSs are highly addictive substances with an altered chemical make-up, causing their side-effects to be very unpredictable. They are produced in labs without any form of quality control, making it impossible to fully know what they contain.

Randox Testing Services is at the forefront of developing tests to detect the presence of legal highs. One example of this is that the world’s first synthetic cannabinoid detection ‘spice’ test was developed at Randox. In the endless pursuit of creating innovative tests for new and emerging legal highs, our expertise sets us apart from the rest of the industry. We provide tests for identifying NPSs and operate to provide accurate results and customer satisfaction. For more information on our tests for psychoactive substances visit or contact us at