Staff

Management

Niamh Eastwood
Executive Director
020 7324 2980

Niamh is Executive Director of Release. She is a non-practising barrister who started at Release in 2002 as a legal advisor. She has extensive experience of service delivery, policy strategy, fundraising and operational development. Having worked in drug policy for the last ten years Niamh is passionate about drug policy reform and believes that the most vulnerable in society are disproportionately impacted upon by the current drug laws.

Niamh has co-authored Release's two most recent policy papers 'The Numbers in Black And White: Ethnic Disparities In The Policing And Prosecution Of Drug Offences In England And Wales' and ‘A Quiet Revolution: Drug Decriminalisation Policies in Practice Across the Globe’. She has also co-authored and edited a number of Release's advice booklets including  ‘Drugs and the Law’ and ‘Sex Workers and the Law’, she regularly contributes to drug policy journals and publications including Drugs and Alcohol Today (of which she is also a member of the editorial board) and Drink and Drug News. Niamh is also responsible for drafting many of Release's briefings for parliamentarians and policy makers. She has presented at international and national conferences and is regularly invited to comment in the media.

Niamh is also an Associate of The London School of Economics IDEAS International Drug Policy Project, a member of the Expert Steering Group for the Global Drug Survey and is a visiting lecturer at the Centre for Public Health, Liverpool John Moores University.

Kirstie Douse
Head of Legal Services
020 7324 2982

Kirstie was appointed Head of Legal Services in January 2012, having joined Release as a solicitor in 2008.

Before joining Release Kirstie practiced as a solicitor specialising in criminal defence. Having become disillusioned with the way drug users are dealt with in the criminal justice system, Kirstie joined Release with a view to tackling the problems at an earlier stage in proceedings by challenging policy and procedure. 

In addition to managing the Legal Team, Kirstie continues to advise clients at Release's legal surgeries and via the legal helpline.  She has become increasingly involved in the organisation’s policy and campaign work, and is passionate about tackling the stigma faced by people who use drugs. Kirstie provides comment in the media on legal and policy issues relating to drugs, and has also presented at national and international conferences.

Gary Sutton
Head of Drugs Services
020 7324 2971

Gary has over 20 years of experience working in the field of substance dependence including counselling, outreach work and formerly managing the largest needle exchange project in London. With his unparalleled experience and knowledge of drugs many committees and working groups have requested his contribution, and he has held advisory positions with the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), the National Treatment Agency (NTA), the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and Parliamentary advisory forums. In addition, Gary has provided training for members of the RGCP, and has delivered lectures for the MSc in Addiction Studies at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College, London. Gary has authored a number of informative and educational publications including heroin treatment and dependence, and cannabis, and has presented on numerous drug related topics at national and international conferences. Additionally, Gary has provided over 200 expert reports in civil, criminal, medical and military drug cases, as well as testimony. He also delivers a weekly counselling service in a clinical environment in West London to individuals and groups alike including drug and alcohol matters.  Gary has professional memberships with the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists, Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals, and the Expert Witness Institute.

Keith Edwards
Finance & Operations Manager
020 7324 2979

Keith does all the financial stuff for the organisation, as well as all of the office recycling - generally because no one else is willing to do it. He also provides operational support and the evaluation reports for the services we provide, and he's the guy to talk to about anything and everything regarding the organisation.  He has an unhealthy interest in health & welfare economics, and you can often find him with his head in hands after reading the newspaper.

Legal

Natasha Dhumma
Stop and Search Programme Coordinator
020 7324 2990

Natasha joined Release in 2013 as Stop and Search Programme Coordinator, working on a project to empower young people to safely manage situations where they are stopped and searched. Natasha works closely with youth organisations, community groups, educators and lawyers to ensure the educational material and training developed through Release’s stop and search work effectively takes a harm reduction approach to the policing of young people. Natasha also coordinates the Youth Group at StopWatch, an action group of which Release is a member.

Before Release, Natasha worked for a European antiracist network where she developed non-formal education and capacity-building activities for NGOs. Her main areas of interest are youth activism and anti-discrimination.

Robert Jappie
Solicitor
0207 324 2983

Robert Jappie joined the legal team at Release in 2013. He is a qualified solicitor advocate with 8 years practice in the field of criminal defence. Robert previously worked for one of the largest General Crime law firms in London and has extensive advocacy experience in both the Magistrates and Crown Court. He has a wide-ranging knowledge of defending all types of criminal drugs supply and possession prosecutions and has previously specialised in cases involving abuses of power by the police.

Having dedicated his career to publically funded legal aid work, at Release, Robert now continues his commitment to helping those that need it most.

Robert advises at several legal outreach projects across London on a range of legal issues. He is committed to ensuring that vulnerable individuals continue to receive access to comprehensive legal advice and representation, especially in the face of ongoing cuts to legal aid funding and services.

Lorna Macfarlane
Solicitor
020 7324 2984

Lorna obtained a degree in English Literature from Edinbugh University and worked for the BBC before re-training as a lawyer. She is a qualified Duty Solicitor who continues to undertake Legal Aid criminal defence work. Lorna advises Release's clients on the helpline and at outreach projects, believing in accessible, good quality representation for all.

Kojo Koram
Legal Adviser
020 7324 2986

Kojo joined the legal team at Release in 2012, first as a volunteer and then as a legal advisor in 2013. He currently advises at several legal outreach projects across London on a variety of different legal issues.  Prior to working at Release, Kojo worked at a Capital defence law firm in Louisiana, USA . This allowed him to develop the wide-range of skills necessary to assist vulnerable clients, who he firmly believes are those most in need of representation.

In conjunction with his work at Release, Kojo is also currently writing a doctoral thesis at Birkbeck College, University of London. This thesis examines the position of the law on controlled drugs within the legacy of empire and allows Kojo to explore his interest in global drugs policy.  Kojo has also been called to the Bar of England and Wales as a Middle Temple scholar. 

Drugs

Basak Tas
Consultant Expert Witness

After working in the drugs team for over eight years, Basak is now a consultant Expert Witness for Release. She is currently undertaking her PhD, titled; ‘Acute heroin overdose: improving understanding through laboratory investigation’, in the ‘addictions’ department of the institute of psychiatry, psychology and neuroscience (ioppn). 

Daniel Williams
Drugs Researcher
020 7324 2987

Dan joined the drugs team at Release in the summer of 2011. He is currently researching for the Release website and Expert Witness Team. Dan has a legal background, having attained a Diploma in Law and currently completing his LLB. He has a long history of political interest and activism and is passionate about all human rights and social justice issues.

Administration

Caitlin Oddy
Research & Policy Coordinator
020 7324 3535

Caitlin joined Release as an intern in 2013 after graduating with her BSc from the London School of Economics. She now works as a research and policy coordinator, analysing the Met’s data on stop and search. Key areas of her research include the significance of socio-economic disparities for drug offences, as well as looking into the economic costs associated with policing and prosecuting the possession of drugs in the UK.

In addition to working towards research papers, Caitlin also looks after Release’s communications.

Caitlin has a particular interest in the social and political function of the law on controlled drugs, and the consequential effects on established drug markets and trends.

Edward Fox
Talking Drugs Coordinator
02073242978

Edward joined Release in 2014 as the project coordinator for TalkingDrugs, having previously worked as an editor and journalist in Colombia. His main focus is on sourcing and providing content for TalkingDrugs, ensuring that the site represents the ever-changing dynamics in drug policy throughout the world and those affected by it.

Edward’s primary area of interest is drug policy and production in the Americas, and US-led counter narcotics efforts in the region.

He graduated from the University of Sussex with a BA (Hons.) in Politics and International Relations.