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The cost to the state


The Costs to the State
The ambulance service

Prisons call an ambulance every 42 minutes after widespread abuse of legal highs leads to a huge rise in emergencies. Legal highs like Spice and Black Mamba are blamed for rise in prison 999 calls. An epidemic of designer drugs in prisons has been blamed for paramedics responding a record number of times in 2015-16 costing taxpayers millions of pounds.

Rampant use of new psychoactive substances, such as 'zombie' drug Spice, behind bars is exerting huge pressure on local 999 crews because of the rising number of prisoners needing medical help. Emergency calls are so frequent that inmates nickname the vehicles 'Mambulances' after another cannabis-like drug called Black Mamba. Each call-out is estimated to cost £300 so the bill for all incidents in 2015-16 is around £3.7million, before the cost of hospital treatment.


IN 2016, ambulances were summoned to prisons for emergencies on 12,576 occasions, a jump from 6,677 since 2013-14, or 88 per cent, according to figures from England's ten ambulance services. The use of illegal drugs impacts on the social and economic well being of the country, including its reputation overseas. Ministers have pledged to tackle the problems of prisons being swamped with legal highs, which have been linked to a rise in violence against staff and inmates and overdoses.

The cost to the police service
The Government’s organised crime strategy sets out that drug trafficking to the UK costs an estimated £10.7 billion per year. Drug smuggling by organised criminals is a major threat. Class A drugs, specifically heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine and ecstasy, are widely available throughout the UK. The UK drugs market has seen diversification through the emergence of a variety of new psychoactive substances (NPS), commonly referred to as ‘legal highs’.

However, this name is in itself misleading as frequently these substances contain controlled drugs. This has led to associated health problems among users. The marketing and sale continues to take place on the internet presenting challenges for law enforcement to control their sale and distribution.

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