Scope and Content

Mainly correspondence and subject files including: bust case sheets and correspondence, 1967-1976; advice case sheets and correspondence, 1969-1979; individual client files, 1969-1974, correspondence with prisoners, 1969-1974; transcripts of the Release therapy/discussion group, 1970; correspondence with solicitors and solicitors' forms, 1968-1972; correspondence and complaints to the police and other officials, 1971-1975; Windsor Free Festival, 1974-1975; Don Aitken's files (Information Officer), 1968-1974; Caroline Coon's files, 1967-1971; other Release workers' files, 1969-1975; general alphabetical correspondence series, 1967-1976; list of clients, 1972-1976; social/psychiatric daybooks, 1973-1976 and miscellaneous subject files, 1960s-1974. Also minutes, 1971-1974; end of year accounts, 1972-1975; Release publications, 1969-1977; other organisations publications (individual publications and files of collected publications) 1960s, 1970-1978.

Administrative / Biographical History

Release was founded in London in 1967 by Caroline Coon and Rufus Harris who established it as a direct response to the growing number of young people being arrested and/or imprisoned under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1965. Initially the most important aspect of Release's work was to ensure that young people who had been arrested for drug charges were legally represented, as well as offer advice on individual rights regarding searches, arrests, court procedures and the interpretation of the law but Release rapidly developed into a national alternative legal and welfare organisation.

Release offered a 24 hour emergency phone service (established June 1967), as well as answering postal enquiries and operating as a drop in centre for visitors to its London office. Advice was offered on a whole variety of issues including drugs, police arrests, housing problems, medical/psychiatric problems, women's rights and abortion. Professional legal, psychiatric and medical advice was available through late evening sessions run by volunteer lawyers, psychiatrists and doctors.

Today Release is 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.

Reference: Caroline Coon and Rufus Harris, 'The Release Report on Drug Offenders and the Law' (London 1969).

Access Information

Subject to conditions described in the full catalogue, this collection is available to researchers by appointment at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick. See

Acquisition Information

The initial deposit was made by Caroline Coon, Release's co-founder in 1977. Subsequent deposits were made in 1978 and 1979. Additional material was purchased from BeatBooks in 2016

Other Finding Aids

Appraisal Information

This collection has been weeded for duplicates. A small number of files have been destroyed, mainly from routine/repetitive series such as thank you letters and requests for information. Invoices and routine administrative files have also been destroyed.


Further deposits are not expected.

Corporate Names