A FORMER criminal has spoken of the crippling effect legal highs are having on inmates in Winchester Prison.
Daniel Brown said the devastating substances were ‘everywhere’ during his two-month jail sentence and two men became ‘psychotic’ after taking them.
The 23-year-old, of Portchester, said the most common legal high of choice was ‘Spice’, a synthetic form of cannabis which he said didn’t give off a strong smell and could be smoked without being caught, as it doesn’t show up in drug tests.
But the Prison Office insists there are ‘robust measures’ in place at Winchester to detect drugs.
New laws have also been unveiled that will see those who smuggle packages over prison walls, including legal highs, facing up to two years in prison.
Speaking to The News, Mr Brown said: ‘It was everywhere.
The law needs to be changed because it sent a couple of the lads scatty and psychotic.Ex-criminal Daniel Brown, 23, of Portchester
‘I had never heard of these legal highs before I was in there. It was unbelievable.
‘You could mix the spice with a cheap tobacco and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
‘The law needs to be changed because it sent a couple of the lads scatty and psychotic.
‘It’s something that shouldn’t be smoked or used for human consumption.
‘You don’t need to put a lot of the Spice in (with the tobacco) but people are taking a lot of it.
‘There are a lot of people kicking off in the prisons at the moment and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was linked to legal high use.’
The concerns come after a report by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman published this summer found legal highs were a factor in 19 prisoner deaths nationwide between 2012 and 2014.
The dossier said there had been reports of prisoners, being given ‘spiked’ cigarettes by others who wanted to test the effect of legal highs – also known as new psychoactive substances (NPS) – before taking it themselves.
It was found prisoners suspected of taking NPS were ‘incoherent’ and ‘unable to stand up properly’.
And because chemicals in legal highs are constantly being tweaked ‘the health risks are hard to predict’.
A Prison Office spokesman said: ‘There are already a range of robust measures in place at Winchester to detect drugs, including the use of search dogs and intelligence-led searches.’
The News has launched its Legal Highs: Only Lows campaign in a bid to raise greater awareness of the dangers and to lobby for a blanket ban on the production, distribution, supply and sale of legal highs.
Portsmouth City Council is running its own awareness drive in schools so students know the risks. The authority is to hold a meeting tomorrow over plans to ban legal highs in public spaces.