Release, founded in 1967 by Caroline Coon and Rufus Harris (died 2007), is a UK agency that provides legal advice and arranges legal representation for people charged with the possession of drugs. Release is now the oldest independent drugs charity in the world and continues to provide a range of services dedicated to meeting the health, welfare and legal needs of drugs users and those who live and work with them.
Founded in 1967, the aim of Release was to provide bail services to people arrested for drugs offences and to refer them to solicitors. A 24-hour telephone help line was set up and run by volunteers. Coon was the fundraiser and spokesperson for the organisation and Harris was the administrator. By the end of 1967 Release was based in an office at 50 Princedale Road, Holland Park. In its first two years, Release handled more than 2,000 cases. High-profile clients included John Lennon and George Harrison, who donated £5,000 in 1969.
Release gained charitable status in 1972, following a review of its activities by the Rowntree Foundation. By the mid-1970s, Release was supported directly by a Home Office grant, without compromising its libertarian principles.
Mission and vision
Release is the UK centre of expertise on drugs and drugs law providing free and confidential specialist advice to the public and professionals. Release also campaigns for changes to UK drug policy to bring about a fairer and more compassionate framework to manage drug use in society.
Release believes the current system of drug laws results in unnecessary abuses of human rights, fails to protect individual and public health, erodes respect for the law, undermines democracy and generates corruption.
Release runs a national helpline which is staffed by drug experts as well as lawyers with specialist knowledge of issues affecting drug users and their families.
Release remains the UK's only dedicated free legal and drugs advice service, offering a helpline for drug users and their families. Specialists offer advice both to the drugs industry and the general public. It continues to advocate treatment over punishment for drug users. Release has a long history of association with the heart of London and has been based in various premises around Old Street since the 1980s.
- Abrams, Steve (2007-04-30). "Rufus Harris". The Guardian (London).
- "A Summary Description of the Papers of Release". Archives Hub. Retrieved 2008-01-29.
- "Britain's "Release"". Time. 1969-07-18. Retrieved 2008-01-29.
- Claudia Rubin (4 June 2009). "The drugs do work – for a lot of people". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-06-15.
- Mary O'Hara (9 June 2009). "'Nice people take drugs' ads pulled from London buses". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-06-15.
- www.release.org.uk Official site
- Catalogue of the Release archives, held at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick
- LIFE Magazine, 22 Aug 1969 'This Is an Underground with Office Hours'
- International Times, 8 March 1968 - Mary Finnigan Story
- Talking drugs site sponsored by Release