The Home Office has published a Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 Review Framework [link]. There is no doubt that the PSA has had the effect of closing down most, if not all, of the high street retail outlets selling ‘new psychoactive substances’ (i.e. those substances not controlled under the MDA 1971). Less clear, I suggest, is the extent to which (i) prevalence has changed since the PSA came into force, (ii) the quantities of NPS being sourced (e.g. online or from street dealers), and (iii) the substances most frequently consumed: see recent BBC news items [link], including news that the prison service found 1/4 metric tonne of drugs in one year [link].
Private prosecutions in the UK seem to be increasing. There is also growing interest in the use of the private sector to recover the proceeds of criminal conduct. Perhaps it is time to carefully consider whether such proceedings/actions are in the public interest (and, if they are, in what circumstances?), and to consider how they should be managed and regulated.
The Government has published a Statutory Instrument (SI 2017 No. 576, in force 12th May 2017) that empowers the Secretary of State (under new rule 46A of the Prison Rules 1999) to direct that certain prisoners be held in “separation centres” on the grounds of “national security, preventing terrorism offences, preventing the dissemination of views that might encourage such offences, and preventing the use of particular views or beliefs to undermine good order and discipline.” [Explanatory Note]
See “Legal Developments 2017” for the cases of R v Poraj; and R v Johnson. The latter case is important in relation to the issue of whether a person who carries, or conveys, an article into prison (in the absence of authority to do so) must know that the article is ‘prohibited’ albeit that it need not be proved that he/she knew precisely what the article was. Practitioners should be careful about using the colloquialism “Spice”. There is no such drug in science or in law called “Spice”. It is used to refer to certain synthetic cannabinoids of which there are a good many. Some are controlled under the MDA 1971 and some are not. They may, or may not be, “psychoactive” for the purposes of the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016.