Search tips
Search criteria 


Logo of jrsocmedLink to Publisher's site
J R Soc Med. 1994 January; 87(1): 13–14.
PMCID: PMC1294272

Drug misusers in police custody: a prospective survey.


Approximately 11% of individuals seen by forensic medical examiners in police custody in London are drug misusers. This prospective survey using an anonymized structured questionnaire attempted to define some of the characteristics of this selected group of drug misusers. The study was undertaken in Metropolitan Police Service stations (London, UK) within the area covered by Group IV Forensic Medical Examiners. One hundred and fifty consecutive drug misusers in police custody were assessed. Of these individuals 77% used heroin; 30% used both heroin and cocaine regularly; 72% were injecting drugs; 32% were being prescribed drugs (e.g. methadone) by general practitioners or drug agencies. Those individuals prescribed drugs spent a similar amount per day on illicit drugs as those who were not (100.30 pounds versus 106 pounds). Four per cent of individuals were HIV-positive; 25.7% were hepatitis-B positive. Only 9.7% were aware that prophylaxis for hepatitis-B was possible. Seventy-four per cent had served previous prison sentences and of those 82% had used class A controlled drugs whilst serving the sentence. It is concluded that drug misusers seen in police custody tend to be recidivists. It seems that some clear means of identifying and ensuring referral and attendance at an appropriate agency may be the only way to break the cycle of drug misuse, prison and further drug misuse in this highly (self) selected group of patients.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (454K), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Brown J, Kranzler HR, Del Boca FK. Self-reports by alcohol and drug abuse inpatients: factors affecting reliability and validity. Br J Addict. 1992 Jul;87(7):1013–1024. [PubMed]
  • Makower RM, Pennycook AG, Moulton C. Intravenous drug abusers attending an inner city accident and emergency department. Arch Emerg Med. 1992 Mar;9(1):32–39. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Gossop M, Grant M. A six country survey of the content and structure of heroin treatment programmes using methadone. Br J Addict. 1991 Sep;86(9):1151–1160. [PubMed]
  • McKee I. Harm minimisation for drug misusers. BMJ. 1992 Jul 11;305(6845):118–118. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Farrell M, Battersby M, Strang J. Screening for hepatitis B and vaccination of injecting drug users in NHS drug treatment services. Br J Addict. 1990 Dec;85(12):1657–1659. [PubMed]
  • Dye S, Isaacs C. Intravenous drug misuse among prison inmates: implications for spread of HIV. BMJ. 1991 Jun 22;302(6791):1506–1506. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Farrell M, Strang J. Drugs, HIV, and prisons. BMJ. 1991 Jun 22;302(6791):1477–1478. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

Articles from Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine are provided here courtesy of Royal Society of Medicine Press