|The 'problem' of drugs in prisons has become a key policy concern in many countries. In Britain, this issue has generated considerable public and political interest culminating in various policy initiatives. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with key players in the policy process and an analysis of documentary materials, this paper explores the contradictions in the development of contemporary prison drugs policy in England during the period 1980-1998. Since 1980, policy in this area can be divided into four main phases of development which have hinged upon complex patterns of conflict, contradiction and convergence between medical and penal forms of control. The various shifts in policy will be examined by exploring several processes including the changing perceptions and definitions of the drugs 'problem', the nature and extent of drugs use and risk behaviour in prisons, and the impact of changes in wider policy frameworks.
(Return to Program Resources)