Drink and Drugs News DDN March 2019 - Page 5

read the full stories, and more, online www.drinkanddrugsnews.com HOME OFFICE GO-AHEAD FOR PILOT DRUG-TESTING SCHEME THE HOME OFFICE HAS GRANTED THE UK’S FIRST OFFICIAL LICENCE FOR A DRUG CHECKING SERVICE. Anyone over the age of 18 can now take a sample of their drugs to Addaction’s service in Weston-super-Mare for the contents to be tested. The service is completely anonymous, with staff available to discuss support options and offer harm reduction advice. The pilot project will operate in partnership with the University of Hertfordshire, with additional support from drug testing service The Loop. The testing process takes around ten minutes, during which people will fill in a short questionnaire to ‘allow harm reduction advice to be tailored to their needs’. Along with identifying the content of drug samples, the service will help to gain an understanding of new drug trends, identify potential sources of harm and raise alerts. Samples will not be returned to their owners. ‘This is an exciting development for Addaction, the Loop and for UK harm reduction generally, resulting from several years of hard work,’ said director of The Loop, Fiona Measham. ‘Three summers piloting festival testing and a year piloting city centre testing has shown that drug safety testing can identify substances of concern, productively engage with service users and reduce drug-related harm.’ ‘This is about saving lives,’ said Addaction’s director of pharmacy, and project lead, Roz Gittins. ‘We know people take drugs. We don’t have to condone it but nor should PRICE PROMISE THE WELSH GOVERNMENT has committed to introducing a 50p minimum unit price for alcohol, following a public consultation. ‘Ministers remain of the view that a 50p minimum unit price is a proportionate response to tackling the health risks of excessive alcohol consumption,’ the government announced. It will now ‘lay regulations’ to the National Assembly for Wales for consideration later this year – the assembly has already supported minimum pricing when the Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Bill was passed last year (DDN, July/August 2018, page 4). we judge people or bury our heads in the sand. It’s our job to do whatever we can to help people make informed choices about the risks they’re taking. Checking the content of drugs is a sensible and progressive way to do that. If people know what’s in something, they can be better informed about the potential harm of taking it.’ www.drinkanddrugsnews.com ‘We know people take drugs. We don’t have to condone it...’ roz GiTTins POLICY PROBE PAUL FLYNN NEWPORT WEST MP PAUL FLYNN, an early and vocal advocate of drug law reform, has died aged 84. An early day motion he tabled on the Psychoactive Substances Bill stated that, ‘This House regrets the depth of scientific illiteracy’ in the document (DDN, February 2016, page 4) while he told DDN that the 2010 Drug Strategy was ‘exactly the same as every other drug strategy – self- admiring, futile and the product of the cowardice and stupidity of politicians,’ (DDN, June 2011, page 21). ‘The adjective that has been used about me over the years is “controversial”, which means that everyone agrees with every word you say years after you say it,’ he added. ‘It’s just a question of being patient.’ Change Grow Live,’ said Sova’s head of operational delivery, John Leach. ‘We are making this change from a position of financial strength and this is a move that makes sense for us as an organisation as part of a strategy to have a bigger impact for the people we help.’ AN INQUIRY INTO GOVERNMENT DRUG POLICY has been launched by the Health and Social Care Committee, with terms of reference including ‘What would a high- quality, evidence-based response to drugs look like?’ and ‘How effective and evidence- based is treatment provision?’ Written submissions welcome until 18 March at: www.parliament.uk/business/committees/com mittees-a-z/commons-select/health-and- social-care-committee/ ‘it’s just a question of being patient.’ PAul flynn CHANGING TIMES CHANGE GROW LIVE (CGL) and its subsidiary Sova are to fully merge, the charities have announced, with the integration of both organisations’ infrastructure, expertise and service delivery. Sova supports people with multiple and complex needs, and last year reported income of almost £4m, delivering more than 40 services across England and Wales. ‘We’ve achieved a great deal under the Sova brand over the years, however this seems like the right time to work more closely with VIOLENCE REVIEW THE GOVERNMENT HAS APPOINTED PROFESSOR DAME CAROL BLACK to lead a wide-ranging review into ‘the ways in which drugs are fuelling serious violence’. Professor Black previously led the government’s review looking at whether people with drug or alcohol problems should be made to undergo treatment in order to claim benefits (DDN, September 2015, page 4). The ‘changing drugs market’ has been identified by the government’s serious violence strategy as a driver of recent increases in violent crime, and the review will look at ‘who drug users are, what they are taking and how often’ to build a comprehensive picture of the issues, the Home Office states. RISK ASSESSMENT AN EXPERT WORKING GROUP of the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM) is to begin a wide-ranging review into the ‘benefits and risks’ of opioid medicines, including dependence. ‘In response to the growing concern internationally and in the UK about overuse and increased prescribing of opioid analgesics, we are seeking expert advice on the benefits and risks of opioid medicines, including best practice for risk minimisation,’ said director of MHRA’s vigilance and risk management of medicines division, Dr June Raine. March 2019 | drinkanddrugsnews | 5