High smoking prevalance in detainees held at police investigation centres
Dr Caitlin Notley, Ms Vivienne Maskrey and Professor Richard Holland
Dr Caitlin Notley Lecturer in Mental Health & Society for the Study of Addiction Research Fellow, Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia
Many offenders suffer from poor physical health due, in part, to high levels of smoking. Moreover, there is higher health service demand among prisoners compared to the general population. Whilst previous work has established the health needs of those detained within prison, there has been little work to date on those detained within Police Investigation Centres, (PICs).
We undertook a commissioned health needs assessment for prisoner’s in PICs, reviewing routine health and custody data, individual health records, undertaking a survey of a sample of 150 detainees, and qualitative interviews with staff and stakeholders. We found very high levels of smoking in this population (approximately 80%). PIC detainees are a transient but captive audience, who are likely to be active current smokers in the pre-contemplative stage of smoking cessation, and therefore suffering nicotine withdrawal whilst detained. A brief motivational intervention could be effective in encouraging detainees to follow referral pathways for smoking cessation support on release.
To present a message attractive to detainees in the pre-contemplative stage, we propose that future research might usefully explore feasibility, acceptability and likely effectiveness of motivational messages, possibly including pro-vaping messages versus pro-NRT messages, emphasising the usefulness of nicotine substitution treatment in various forms.
Dr Caitlin Notley is a Lecturer in Mental Health and a Research Fellow of the Society for the Study of Addiction. She has an expertise in qualitative methods. Her current programme focuses on tobacco smoking relapse prevention, where she has led a qualitative study alongside an HTA funded trial and a systematic review of barriers and facilitators for smoking relapse prevention amongst postpartum women. As part of her SSA fellowship she is exploring relapse prevention for particularly vulnerable and at risk groups and has a related research interest in e cigarette use.
Source of funding: Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies