DURHAM POLICE TO OFFER HEROIN-ASSISTED TREATMENT
DURHAM CONSTABULARY is planning to become the first police force in England to offer heroin-assisted treatment to problem drug users .
Under the proposals , people whose drug use has led to prolific offending would be able to follow a programme designed to ‘ stabilise their addiction in a controlled environment ’ and reduce their dependency until they stopped taking heroin altogether , said Durham police , crime and victims ’ commissioner , Ron Hogg . They would also be expected to engage with conventional treatment at the same time .
‘ I have asked our local public health departments to suggest a series of options which would enable us to introduce heroin-assisted treatment in the Durham area ,’ he stated , with the annual cost of heroin-assisted treatment estimated at around a third of that of keeping someone in prison . ‘ The aim of the initiative is to save the lives of addicts , shut down drug dealers and reduce acquisitive crime . Instead of stealing in order to fund their habit , and money flowing the organised crime gangs , addicts will be helped to recover . The costs associated with it would be saved through reduced costs in the longer term to the courts , prisons , the police , and wider society .’
Glasgow is also planning to open a consumption room and offer heroin-assisted treatment , after city officials approved the development of a business case late last year ( DDN , November 2016 , page 4 ).
The Durham scheme is likely to prove controversial , however , with an editorial in the Mail on Sunday stating that ‘ law-abiding , hard-working citizens whose taxes are used to pay for heroin may feel they have been mugged by the taxman to pay for someone else ’ s bad behaviour ’, and adding that the ‘ biggest objection ’ was that the plan was sponsored by a police force . ‘ Their job is to uphold the law ,’ it said . ‘ They cannot actively help people to do something that would be illegal in other circumstances . It is a step too far .’
HEROIN , COCAINE AND MDMA are now being sold at ‘ unprecedented ’ levels of purity , according to the latest DrugWise survey of the UK ’ s street drugs market . This confirms a trend of rising purity levels detected since 2014 , says Highways and buyways : a snapshot of UK drug scenes 2016 , which is based on interviews with police officers , treatment staff and others . While heroin purity had reached 40 per cent three years ago , following the ‘ drought ’ of 2010 , purity levels of up to 60 per cent are now being quoted , the document states . It adds that while the ‘ primary aims ’ of last year ’ s controversial Psychoactive Substances Act ( DDN , June 2016 , page 4 ) had been achieved – closing ‘ head shops ’ and stopping chemists from simply tweaking the formula each time a drug was banned – synthetic cannabinoids have now become firmly established as street drugs in some areas , causing ‘ continuing problems for vulnerable groups ’ like rough sleepers and prisoners . Report at www . drugwise . org . uk
‘ the aim of the initiative is to save the lives of addicts , shut down drug dealers and reduce acquisitive crime .’
ALCOHOL ADVERTISING SHOULD BE REMOVED from streets , parks and public transport , says a report from Alcohol Focus Scotland . Promoting good health from childhood also wants to see a
INDUSTRY CLAIMS ABOUT ALCOHOL ’ S BENEFITS to the UK economy are ‘ overstated ’, according to an Institute of Alcohol Studies ( IAS ) report . Alcohol is now 60 per cent more affordable than it was in 1980 , says Splitting the bill : alcohol ’ s impact on the UK economy , and any drop in consumption as a result of increases in cost are likely to reduce the estimated £ 8-11bn annual impact of impaired productivity , alcohol-related ill health , unemployment and premature death . ‘ Economic arguments are regularly used to resist policies that tackle excessive alcohol consumption , such as raising duty ,’ said IAS policy analyst Aveek Bhattacharya . ‘ Yet raising the price of alcohol is more likely to benefit the economy than harm it , by reducing the productivity costs associated with workers ’ harmful alcohol consumption .’ Document at www . ias . org . uk phasing out of alcohol sponsorship in sports , music and cultural events , as well as further advertising restrictions for social media , print , cinema and TV . ‘ We allow alcohol companies to reach our children from a young age ,’ said chief executive Alison Douglas . ‘ They are seeing and hearing positive messages about alcohol when waiting for the school bus , watching the football , at the cinema or using social media . We need to create environments that foster positive choices and support children ’ s healthy development .’ Report at www . alcohol-focus-scotland . org . uk
WORKERS ’ RIGHTS
A NEW GUIDE to the legal framework around sex work has been published by Release . As well as setting out the criminal offences , Sex workers and the law includes advice on issues such as welfare benefits , dealing with the police and going to court . The guide is aimed at people engaged in sex work as well as statutory and voluntary agencies and professionals who come into contact with those in the sex industry . Documents at www . release . org . uk
A THIRD OF RELATIONSHIPS affected by drug or alcohol problems will eventually break down , according to research by the charity OnePlusOne in partnership with Adfam . Of the survey sample of 100 people with substance issues , nearly 80 per cent reported arguing with their partner and more than 70 per cent said their relationship had been affected ‘ to a large extent ’. However , more than 27 per cent said their relationship had become ‘ stronger ’ after seeking professional support . The research forms part of the DWP-funded Relationship Realities project , a collection of audio stories and practical advice from people in families affected by substance use . www . adfam . org . uk / couple _ relationships
‘ Raising the price of alcohol is more likely to benefit the economy than harm it .’ Aveek BhAttAchARyA
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