DDN Sept 2021 September 2021 DDN Magazine - Page 5

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Probation services ‘ responding poorly ’ to drugs cases

Too few people on probation are receiving help for drugs issues and the service is ‘ responding poorly to drugs misuse and addiction cases ’, according to a damning report from HM Inspectorate of Probation and CQC . Six out of ten magistrates surveyed by the inspectorate said they were ‘ not confident ’ that people were getting the treatment they needed , while the report also found that key information was either missing or not captured properly – and was also not being used to commission services . Many probation services were unable to supply even basic information such as how many people who use drugs were part of their caseload or were in treatment , while just one in six people were being tested for drug use .

Probation services in England and Wales supervise almost 160,000 people , of whom 75,000 have a drugs problem . However , fewer than 3,000 were referred for treatment in 2019-20 , says the document , with referral programmes having ‘ withered on the vine ’ through diminished funding . Heavy workloads were also an issue , it says , with some probation officers managing caseloads of more than 70 people , meaning they did not have time to fully examine a person ’ s history or identify ‘ factors that could help support them into recovery ’. ‘ Poor ’ follow-up arrangements in the community also meant that two thirds of people leaving prison in the inspected areas had not continued to receive treatment on release , with the situation ‘ considerably worse ’ in England than Wales .
‘ The current system is not working well and the findings of this inspection were very disappointing ,’ said chief inspector of probation , Justin Russell . ‘ Justice and health organisations must work more closely together , for example to ensure continuity of support for prison leavers . Earlier this year , the government provided additional funding to improve drugs treatment . While the

PHE issues warning after sharp rise in overdoses

PHE HAS URGED PEOPLE who use drugs to be ‘ extra cautious ’ following a spate of overdoses in a number of areas . There have been at least 46 poisonings , 16 of them fatal , in areas including London , the South East , South West and East of England , PHE states . While early signs indicate that the overdoses have been caused by ‘ heroin mixed with a potent and dangerous synthetic opioid ’, more work is needed to confirm links between the cases , it says – however , people who use heroin have been urged to exercise extreme caution about ‘ what they are using and how much they take ’.
PHE has alerted local drug services and is also asking that they ‘ reach out to drug users outside of the drug treatment system ’, and the agency is working with the NCA and NPCC to investigate the incidents and prevent further deaths . So far there was ‘ nothing to suggest that there is a direct link between any of the areas affected ’, said the NPCC .
However , Release said that it had received reports of ‘ bad batches ’ of heroin causing sudden deaths in London , Portsmouth and elsewhere , with some tested batches found to contain isotonitazene , a powerful synthetic opioid . The charity is urging people to be extra cautious about new suppliers and to make sure they have more naloxone with them than usual .
‘ We strongly advise anyone using drugs not to use alone and to test a small amount first ,’ said PHE ’ s director of drugs , alcohol , tobacco and justice , Rosanna O ’ Connor .
Six out of ten magistrates surveyed said they were ‘ not confident ’ that people were getting the treatment they needed .
announcement was welcome , the money is for just one year – we need sustained commitment to fund drug treatment and recovery for people on probation .’
A joint thematic inspection of community-based drug treatment and recovery work with people on probation at www . justiceinspectorates . gov . uk See feature page 8
' We strongly advise anyone using drugs not to use alone and to test a small amount first .'
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