December 2020 | Page 4


Middlesbrough HAT pilot has ‘ dramatic impact ’

The Middlesbrough

heroin assisted treatment ( HAT ) pilot launched last year ( DDN , November 2019 , page 5 ) has had a ‘ dramatic impact ’, according to the programme ’ s clinical team lead Daniel Ahmed . Teesside University has now been given a £ 60,000 grant to independently evaluate the scheme and its results .
The HAT pilot , the UK ’ s first , was launched to tackle high rates of street drug deaths and drug litter , remove the health risks associated with street heroin , and divert people from acquisitive crime and offending behaviour . Since its launch , 14 people for whom all other treatment had failed and were causing ‘ most concern ’ to criminal justice and health and social care agencies have been accepted on to the programme . Some had been using heroin for more than 20 years .
Participants visit a clinic twice a day to receive a prescribed dose

A week ’ s units for ‘ price of a coffee ’

of diamorphine under supervision , and have access to agencies that can help with health , housing and financial issues . Analysis of six participants who have spent at least 30 weeks on the programme found a 98 per cent attendance rate for the sessions , even throughout lockdown , while offending levels have plummeted . The six participants had committed more than 540 detected crimes before joining , which has since fallen to a combined total of three lower-level offences .
The scheme , which has been licensed by the Home Office , was launched and partly funded by Cleveland PCC Barry Coppinger using money seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act , with further funding from Durham Tees Valley Community Rehabilitation Company . The new research will look at the experiences of people who have ‘ completed , discontinued or refused to engage ’ with the programme , and will be carried out by Professor Tammi Walker
DRINKERS IN ENGLAND can consume their entire weekly guideline amount of alcohol for the price of a coffee , according to research from the Alcohol Health Alliance .
The alliance visited shops and supermarkets across the UK and found that the cheapest drinks were all in England , where no minimum unit price has been introduced . ‘ It is possible to drink the low-risk weekly guidelines of 14 units for just £ 2.68 – about the price of a cup of coffee in many high street chains ,’ the alliance states . Beers , wines and spirits were all on sale in London branches of Aldi and Lidl for between 31 and 38p per unit , while cider remains the cheapest product – available for as little as 19p per unit . The minimum unit price in Scotland and Wales is 50p .
A YouGov survey carried out in October found that 56 per cent of the public would support an increase in alcohol taxes if the money was used to fund services impacted by alcohol , such as the NHS and police . While alcohol duty raises between £ 10bn and £ 12bn per year , PHE estimates the annual cost of alcohol-related harm at £ 27bn .
of Teesside University , Professor Graham Towl of Durham University and Dr Magdalena Harris of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine . Of the original 14 participants , one left voluntarily and two left after committing a crime , while treatment had to be stopped in four cases for medical reasons . The remaining seven are still receiving treatment . ‘ This is not a soft option , it ’ s a smart option ,’
THE DIVISIVE US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION also saw Oregon become the first state to vote in favour of decriminalising possession of small amounts of all drugs for personal use .
The state ’ s electorate voted ‘ yes ’ to Oregon Measure 110 , which supports making ‘ personal non-commercial possession of a controlled substance ’ – including heroin , cocaine and methamphetamine – subject to no more than a $ 100 fine , as well as establishing a treatment and recovery programme financed in part by the state ’ s marijuana
‘ This is not a soft option , it ’ s a smart option .'
said Ahmed . ‘ What we are doing is following an evidence base that is producing results .’

‘ Historic victory ’ in Oregon

tax and savings from not processing people through the criminal justice system . Anyone arrested for offences related to drug dealing will still be subject to criminal prosecution .
The initiative had been launched by advocacy group the Drug Policy Alliance , which called the result a ‘ historic victory ’, a ‘ monumental night for drug policy reform ’, and ‘ arguably the biggest blow to the war on drugs to date ’. The vote confirmed ‘ a substantial shift in public support ’ in favour of treating drug use as a health rather than criminal issue , it said .
OREGON is the first US State to decriminalise drug possession . Measure 110 makes it a noncriminal violation ( similar to a traffic offence ) to possess :
• Less than 1 gram of heroin
• Less than 1 gram , or less than 5 pills , of MDMA
• Less than 2 grams of methamphetamine
• Less than 40 units of LSD
• Less than 12 grams of psilocybin
• Less than 40 units of methadone
• Less than 40 pills of oxycodone
• Less than 2 grams of cocaine www . gazettelive . co . uk