DDN September 2023 DDN September_2023_v2 | Page 19

of ‘ super blocks ’, she explains . ‘ One might cover , say , three local authority areas . So you might have one person in Sandwell there two days a week but they ’ re only going to pick up people from Sandwell , whereas this service picks up absolutely everybody who comes into a police custody suite in the West Midlands – they could be from the West Midlands or Manchester or London . No one gets missed .’
TEST-ON-ARREST Home Office guidance for police forces states that a positive test for heroin , crack or cocaine is a ‘ valuable gateway ’ to ensuring people can access the support they need . But it ’ s the follow-up that ’ s crucial , Jones stresses . ‘ Because we ’ re not the police , people talk to us about their drug use really openly . Although teston-arrest is being pushed out by government , what ’ s important is what comes next . If you test people and you ’ ve got no support or follow on , then there ’ s not really a benefit of doing that .
‘ Last year we supported 1,800 people into treatment who otherwise wouldn ’ t have gone to their local drug and alcohol services ,’ she continues . ‘ We run a pre-arrest drug diversion scheme across the West Midlands as well for anyone caught in possession , and we ’ ve had more than 8,000 people go through that .’
DIVERSION PROGRAMME As part of the DIVERT pre-arrest diversion programme for people caught with small quantities of drugs , Cranstoun has an app installed on officers ’ mobile devices – part of a streamlined referral process that takes just five minutes . Each use of DIVERT is estimated to save more than four hours of police time , and as well as keeping young people found in possession of small amounts of cannabis out of the criminal justice system it also means that any other issues – such as potential vulnerabilities or exploitation , for example – can be picked up on before it ’ s too late . Alongside arrest referral , Cranstoun also provides naloxone for people leaving custody , and late last year launched a new treatment service in HMP Birmingham – ‘ so we ’ ve brought this together as a whole-system approach ’, she says .
In terms of structure , the criminal justice interventions sit at the OPCC level , while Cranstoun ’ s partner for its drug and alcohol treatment provision is Sandwell Council . The importance of ensuring effective partnership working was highlighted last month when the West Midlands – along with many other areas – became aware of dangerous synthetic opioids in circulation . The coordinated response was led by the West Midlands Local Resilience Forum Strategic Coordinating Group , which involves the local authorities , West Midlands police and ambulance services , OHID and others , with the local directors of public health actively working with treatment partners to raise awareness and reduce the risk of harm .
REMOVING BARRIERS Removing barriers is a key aim of the West Midlands partnership arrangements , along with complete consistency across the police force areas . This means that officers don ’ t have to remember different policies and procedures for seven different localities – not just for drugs and alcohol but also for housing , homelessness or domestic violence .
‘ We run a pre-arrest drug diversion scheme across the West Midlands ... for anyone caught in possession , and we ’ ve had more than 8,000 people go through that .’
A REAL OPPORTUNITY ‘ There ’ s a real opportunity to link in at that police force level ,’ says Jones . ‘ In the old DIP days there were things that worked really well , and things that didn ’ t , but what works well in terms of this arrest referral service is we don ’ t duplicate the drug and alcohol services that happen locally . They like it , because we ’ re increasing referrals to them , whereas before you had a bit of a postcode lottery .’
There have been two main areas of impact , she says . One is the support and engagement of people , and where possible referring them into treatment , while the other is a huge increase in DRRs and alcohol ATRs – which are issued instead of short-term sentences . ‘ What we do is we front-load it so we ’ ve got people in custody and we do the assessments there and then for a pre-sentence report .’
ONE ASSESSMENT The beauty of the model is ‘ really the collaboration with the seven local authority areas , because we have one assessment ’, she continues . ‘ So if somebody then goes through to treatment , those treatment providers – whether it ’ s Change Grow Live or NACRO in Wolverhampton – accept our assessment , and we ’ ve worked with them to do that . So people aren ’ t continually assessed , because we know the impact of that . And it ’ s the same with the pre-sentence report – they ’ re not continually assessed throughout the system .’
There are regular criminal justice meetings involving the partners and facilitated by the OPCC , as well as a reducing reoffending delivery group of which Cranstoun is part . ‘ So that area of collaboration – not only with the treatment providers but the further system of probation , courts and others – is a real strength of this approach .’
A lot of the operational liaison , particularly with drug and alcohol treatment providers across the seven areas , is on a near-daily basis , she points out . ‘ Because our teams are co-located in custody , they ’ re working in exactly the same space as police and police staff , so you get that co-location . It ’ s the same with working with the liaison and diversion teams in custody , and any other provision . It ’ s that collaboration that ’ s key .’ DDN
This series has been produced with support from an educational grant provided by Camurus , which has not influenced the content in any way .