Compass Leads European Project Into Prison Drug Policy
European governments have traditionally sought to address drug dependency in prison through abstinence-based approaches but the effectiveness of this approach is increasingly challenged by research. As a result, attention has increasingly moved towards the provision of harm reduction in prisons and continuity of care through the prison gates. Nevertheless, there remains a lack of practical knowledge among criminal justice stakeholders about how best to implement harm reduction approaches and to address effect changes in policy.
This is the problem that is being explored through ACCESS, an EU-funded project led by Compass that brings together European partners to identify, research and disseminate best practice in the delivery of harm reduction within prisons.
The main objectives of the project are:
- Produce knowledge on harm reduction in prison, its legislative and regulatory frameworks in Europe, barriers to implementation and good practices of implementation.
- Increase awareness and improve capacity of staff working in prison and more widely within the criminal justice services in Europe in relation to harm reduction and treatment models and delivery in closed/controlled environments.
- Support experiential learning on implementation of harm reduction and treatment services in the criminal justice system.
- Disseminate information and evidence on harm reduction and treatment for drug users in the criminal justice system to a wide European audience.
The project is being led for Compass by Cinzia Brentari who brings considerable experience as project co-ordinator of the successful forerunner project CONNECTIONS which explored drugs and infections in prisons.
The project includes 5 European partners representing Germany, Romania, Portugal, Italy and France who collectively bring expertise in policy, practice and research. The first meeting of the partnership took place at the Compass Lambeth service on 9 March.
We hope that this first foray into European research and knowledge exchange will help us to learn from our counterparts and provide the route to access further research and development funding to evidence the success of our services here in the UK.
A website for the project will shortly go live at www.accessproject.eu.
The project is funded by the European Union as part of the Drug Prevention and Information Programme.