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Techie1

PCC plans to give addicts free heroin to tackle drug-related crime

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Techie1

Addicts would be given the drug to inject under supervision.

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Drug addicts could be given heroin paid for by the police under plans put forward by one police and crime commissioner.

Durham PCC Ron Hogg, who along with Chief Constable Mike Barton has spoken out in support of decriminalisation, said he has now asked the region’s public health departments to examine ways to introduce Heroin Assisted Treatment.

Although plans for a “fix room” are being developed in Glasgow, this would be the first of its kind in England following similar schemes in a number of European countries.

“The aim would be to enable people who have become addicted to heroin to follow a programme that would stabilise their addiction in a controlled environment, and reduce their dependency on heroin until they stop taking it,” said Mr Hogg.

“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 scheme would focus on the most prolific at-risk offenders who would be provided with pharmaceutical heroin, with Mr Hogg adding that it would save money in the long run through reduced costs to courts, prisons, the police and wider society.

The number of reported drug misuse deaths involving opioids including heroin rose by 58 per cent in England over the last four years, with the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs recommending last December that the government should consider the provision of medically supervised drug consumption clinics in locations with a high concentration of injecting drug use.

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SimonT

Whilst I am not completely against thinking outside the box when it comes to trying tackle drugs, it seems foolish that it's the police leading the administration of drugs to adducts. 

It may have an effect on crime stats but the administration of stuff like this is demonstrably medical. 

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Cathedral Bobby

This is similar to what some of the Scandinavian countries do, although it is administered through health services but on police premises and has worked pretty effectively. I agree that this should not managed by the police, although if it is for crime reduction purposes then they need to be a partner organisation. This could also form part of court initiated treatment programme. Could be helpful mind you having many of your most prolific offenders voluntarily visiting police stations every day. It will be like have your most wanted on perpetual bail :CLINDOEIL:

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Zulu 22

The world has gone mad. We are not medical workers or Social workers. Enforce the legislation only, the job is already hard enough. What happens when somebody O.D's 

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MerseyLLB
3 hours ago, Zulu 22 said:

The world has gone mad. We are not medical workers or Social workers. Enforce the legislation only, the job is already hard enough. What happens when somebody O.D's 

Indeed I can barely guess how the IPCC report would read.

The police might provide some seed funding but we should be totally hands off.

Drug users should know they will be safe to attend an NHS clinic for treatment but that the police would continue to robustly police the illegal drugs trade and related crime.

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Policey_Man

This is an interesting idea. I can see the argument from the PPC and the police perspective - controlling the supply of drugs reduces the need for people to commit offences to fund their habit. However, the question is will the free drugs reduce their criminal activities of the users? If it works, then the reduced time spent dealing with the associated crime can fund the drugs programme and that looks like a cost the PPC is going to accept for now. Clearly, if they are doing this long term, they must assume that the drugs programme costs similar or less than the costs of dealing with the crimes - perhaps a 'deduction' made for the benefit of reduced crime figures? It would be interesting to see the detailed background on this...

I agree this should be the health services proposing this from a health and wellbeing perspective, but with their budgets being cut just as bad as the police services', if the drug users aren't consuming their services or causing them significant amounts of work and therefore financial costs too, like they do with the police through crime and welfare work, I can well understand, albeit regrettably, why the health services haven't proposed this themselves.

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Zulu 22

How many people, high on drugs have tried to use that fact for committing crime. I can think of a few who have committed murder or other serious offences and tried to use drug addiction as a justification.  I do not know of anything in law that precludes a PCC of Chief of the Offence of supplying. We are dealing with class A drugs, or are we prepared to face the consequences of an increase in drug addicts throughout the country.

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Policey_Man
3 hours ago, Zulu 22 said:

How many people, high on drugs have tried to use that fact for committing crime. I can think of a few who have committed murder or other serious offences and tried to use drug addiction as a justification.  I do not know of anything in law that precludes a PCC of Chief of the Offence of supplying. We are dealing with class A drugs, or are we prepared to face the consequences of an increase in drug addicts throughout the country.

That's an interesting point about supply - but if the PCC commissioned it through official health service channels and then the health service supplied the drug, presumably that'd be the health services supplying and they would be covered by the same legislation that covers them for supply of prescribed methadone, for instance?

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Cathedral Bobby

I am all for genuine addicts being prescribed pharmaceutical heroin and taking it how they normally do (injection) in a clean, safe supervised environment, which is far better than current systems. However, this should be managed through health services with the hopeful reduction in crime being a by-product and not the drive behind it. I know in Darlington they ran something similar but health was the lead and it worked well both in terms of health outcomes for addicts and a reduction in their offending behaviour. I suspect this is something the PCC has picked up on. It is certainly better than what is currently available, which giving addicts methadone (a class A drug with even worse withdrawal symptoms than heroin) which is taken orally.

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Zulu 22
45 minutes ago, Policey_Man said:

That's an interesting point about supply - but if the PCC commissioned it through official health service channels and then the health service supplied the drug, presumably that'd be the health services supplying and they would be covered by the same legislation that covers them for supply of prescribed methadone, for instance?

It is a health issue for the Health Service and not for the Police to have any involvement. What happens when a supplier uses a defence of he is dong nothing different than the Police. I have yet to meet an addict that you could trust in any way, shape or form. 

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Policey_Man
30 minutes ago, Zulu 22 said:

It is a health issue for the Health Service and not for the Police to have any involvement. What happens when a supplier uses a defence of he is dong nothing different than the Police. I have yet to meet an addict that you could trust in any way, shape or form. 

But, if the police are only providing the money and the heath services are providing the service, the police just become a commissioner of the service.... which is actually how all health services are run. NHS Primary Care Trusts are the commissioners and they have the money. They in turn agree what services they want from local GPs and hospitals and they purchase those services (i.e. they commission them) on behalf of the people who live in the PCT's area. So the police buying a service to provide these drugs legally will be just like what the PCTs do for everything else, from GP appointments to surgery for broken ankles or heart disease... it's the normal way the NHS is run.

I agree in an ideal world that it would be the heath services doing this without any police involvement, but as I said in my earlier post, if the health services don't have any motivation to do this whereas the police do, then I can understand why the Police would want to trial this.

Edited by Policey_Man

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Zulu 22
20 minutes ago, Policey_Man said:

But, if the police are only providing the money and the heath services are providing the service, the police just become a commissioner of the service.... which is actually how all health services are run. NHS Primary Care Trusts are the commissioners and they have the money. They in turn agree what services they want from local GPs and hospitals and they purchase those services (i.e. they commission them) on behalf of the people who live in the PCT's area. So the police buying a service to provide these drugs legally will be just like what the PCTs do for everything else, from GP appointments to surgery for broken ankles or heart disease... it's the normal way the NHS is run.

I agree in an ideal world that it would be the heath services doing this without any police involvement, but as I said in my earlier post, if the health services don't have any motivation to do this whereas the police do, then I can understand why the Police would want to trial this.

We are not health workers or part of the Health Service.  There is no reason at all why Police should be providing funding for this. The Police are the law enforcement agency, not the administration or the Health Service. We have people lying on hospital trollies in corridors who deserve our assistance more than drug addicts. Taking drugs was their choice.

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Policey_Man
2 hours ago, Zulu 22 said:

We are not health workers or part of the Health Service.  There is no reason at all why Police should be providing funding for this. The Police are the law enforcement agency, not the administration or the Health Service. We have people lying on hospital trollies in corridors who deserve our assistance more than drug addicts. Taking drugs was their choice.

I don't disagree. But I think you're missing the point here.... lower crime means less demand on police. If by the PCC paying for this service the police don't have to report, investigate and then deal with the suspects for committing the offences they might otherwise commit to fund their drugs habit, then  we save a lot of time and money because we don't have officer time working on these crimes, we don't have to fed and water the suspect in custody because they aren't arrested, we don't have to produce reports, case papers, etc.... So whilst it shouldn't be the PCC doing it, if it saves time and money, maybe it's a good idea?

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stewie_griffin
3 minutes ago, Policey_Man said:

But I think you're missing the point here.... lower crime means less demand on police. If by the PCC paying for this service the police don't have to report, investigate and then deal with the suspects for committing the offences they might otherwise commit to fund their drugs habit, then  we save a lot of time and money because we don't have officer time working on these crimes, we don't have to fed and water the suspect in custody because they aren't arrested, we don't have to produce reports, case papers, etc.... So whilst it shouldn't be the PCC doing it, if it saves time and money, maybe it's a good idea?

You're assuming that the heroin itself is the cause of the problem and that if the authorities were to distribute heroin for free, people wouldn't need to commit crime to get it.

That's true in a way, but you could extend the same logic to car thieves: supply them with free cars and you wouldn't have car crime. You could even get a dose/response curve for individual thieves, some might respond better to Range Rovers, some to Volvos.

The thing is, even if you were to reduce car crime by this method, it wouldn't make stealing cars a 'disease'. In the same way, heroin addiction isn't a 'disease' curable either by free heroin or medical intervention.

My point is that supplying free heroin to people would do nothing to resolve the problem of either heroin addiction or the crime associated with it.

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Policey_Man
10 minutes ago, stewie_griffin said:

You're assuming that the heroin itself is the cause of the problem and that if the authorities were to distribute heroin for free, people wouldn't need to commit crime to get it.

That's true in a way, but you could extend the same logic to car thieves: supply them with free cars and you wouldn't have car crime. You could even get a dose/response curve for individual thieves, some might respond better to Range Rovers, some to Volvos.

The thing is, even if you were to reduce car crime by this method, it wouldn't make stealing cars a 'disease'. In the same way, heroin addiction isn't a 'disease' curable either by free heroin or medical intervention.

My point is that supplying free heroin to people would do nothing to resolve the problem of either heroin addiction or the crime associated with it.

But a lot of people don't steal cars for themselves, at least to my knowledge, so whilst I get your point, it's not the best example.

I think it's pretty well known that minor petty crime is often done to fund drug habits.

I did say above that I'd like to see more of the background info to justify this policy and it should be a trial not a long term programme. But, as others have said, this has proven to work in other countries, so isn't it worth trying it here? What have we got to lose?

Edited by Policey_Man

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