Skip to main content
Drugsland BBC Hero Banner


Exploring the consumption, dealing, treatment and policing of illegal drugs in the city of Bristol. 

About the programme

With unprecedented access to police work, drug support agencies, detox clinics, custody suites, local NHS health Trusts, drug dealers and a wide range of users, Drugsland, a 4 x 60 series for BBC Three marks the first time a documentary series has taken a detailed and exhaustive look at the consumption, dealing, treatment and policing of illegal drugs in Bristol.

To find out more visit the BBC website .

Discover the range of qualifications and modules from the OU related to this programme:

Drugsland TV Show - two men stand

Copyright: Drugsland TV Show

A handful of white pills roughly laid out on a blue surface

All You Need to Know About Drugs

Recreational drugs are on the rise and the harm and risk associated with drug-taking is much greater. Watch videos and uncover all you need to know about drugs. 

What's in your drugs?


The trend towards drugs becoming purer has increased in recent years with some potentially worrying consequences. For example, if you are used to 30% heroin and you take some 65% heroin the chances of overdosing increase dramatically. Crack is now routinely found with a purity of over 90% - a consequence of drug gangs trying to secure new clients. E’s are now standardly 3 times the dose in a single pill than they used to be. And then there are the impurities... some of which can harm or even kill. Cheaper cutting agents, such as fentanyl, are often more dangerous than the drug itself. This will include footage shot with the police forensics team and with the Loop team at Boomtown festival who test drugs for festival goers to see if they really want to take them.

Is this the first step towards decriminalisation?


Footage from Bristol's Drugs Education Programme. In a test scheme Bristol is the first city to divert criminalisation for possession through a 'speed awareness course style programme'. We follow police as they detain, search and seize drugs from revellers in the town centre on a Saturday night. We go on to see people (non-identifiable) who have been caught in possession as they go through the course.  Is this course working and should it be rolled out across the country?

What does it feel like to detox?


Ever wondered what it feels like to go cold turkey? There are two contrasting ways to do it - with and without expert help. We have audio of a contributor talking about what it's like to detox in the community and what it’s like to detox in a specialist unit, The Acer Unit in Bristol. Two very different experiences. The contributor needs to remain anonymous and so we will use his audio over graphics and animation.

Meet the OU expert

Dr Rod Earle, Senior Lecturer in Youth Justice
Dr Rod EarleSenior Lecturer in Youth Justice - School of Health, Wellbeing & Social Care Health & Social CareVIEW FULL PROFILE
Dr Rod Earle, Senior Lecturer in Youth Justice
Dr Rod EarleSenior Lecturer in Youth Justice - School of Health, Wellbeing & Social Care Health & Social Care

Before his academic career, he worked in in a co-operative bookshop, as a printer and a youth justice social worker in south London. He completed a PhD at The Open University and has published widely from research he conducted with Dr Coretta Phillips on race, ethnicity and men’s social relations in prison. He helped establish convict criminology in the UK and published his own account of this form of criminological inquiry in 2016: Convict Criminology: Inside and Out (Policy Press).  He has contributed chapters to several edited collections on, for example, prison masculinities and anti-racist criminology.

More on drugs and the fight against crime...

Addicted Parents

...Last Chance to Keep My Children. The story of the only family rehab in the UK.

Read Article
Two detectives from the BBC series The Detectives

The Detectives

This series offers frontline insight into Greater Manchester Police's battle against organised crime.

Read Article
Forensics: The Real CSI - BBC OU series

Forensics: The Real CSI

“My job is to get to the truth, to speak for those who can't speak for themselves”. 

Read Article

The Met: Policing London

Across London, The Met is dealing with the pressures and dilemmas of policing a city of eight and a half million people.

Read Article
Catching Britain's Killers, Alec Jeffreys

Catching Britain’s Killers: The Crimes That Changed Us

Three murder investigations and their extraordinary consequences which overturned laws, transformed police interrogation and revolutionised forensic detection.

Read Article
The leading counsel from The Prosecutors BBC series

The Prosecutors

Series documenting the work of the Crown Prosecution Service.

Read Article

Explore the OU

A cropped photo of students with documents scattered in front of them.

Open University courses

An image of the OU poster for 'A Perfect Planet'

Order a free OU Poster

A young woman on a computer in a cafe

OU subjects A-Z

A photograph taken in a cafe. A mug is in focus in the foreground, and a man using a laptop is out of focus in the background.

The latest OU news

A photo of a person using a laptop and notebook, and a small dog resting its head on the user's arm

About distance learning

A top-down picture of a man using a laptop at a desk

Free courses

A photo of a man wearing a red hoodie and headphones walking away from the camera, on a busy path by a road

Hear from students

About our BBC partnership

For over 50 years The Open University and the BBC have worked together; co-producing hundreds of hours of programming and bringing learning to life for millions. Find out more about our unique partnership.

OU website