In a new scheme being trialed by Durham Police, heroin will be provided to heroin addicts in “shooting galleries”, in an attempt to tackle drug-related crime in the area. Durham will be the first Police Force in the country to introduce this scheme in which users are treated with diamorphine (medical grade heroin) in medically supervised conditions.
Ron Hogg, County Durham’s Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner, says such treatment lowers offending levels and had helped wean users off the drug. People addicted to heroine were given the opiate in consumption rooms, often referred to as “shooting galleries”, supervised by medical professionals. “It got them back into a normal life and it cut crime,” Mr Hogg said. “We saw health benefits for the individuals, we saw needles being taken off the street, so there’s an awful lot of evidence both in the UK and across the world that such schemes do actually work.
Mr Hogg said the UK had the highest rate of heroin, cocaine and ecstasy use across the European Union with drug-induced deaths amounting to 45 people per million compared with 17 per million in the EU. He aims to introduce the scheme “by the end of this year”, he added the force’s public health partners were working out the cost of administering the drug to users twice-daily. “If we go back to the 1960s, doctors used to prescribe heroin as a means of treating someone back to recovery. It’s not that unusual,” Mr Hogg said. “We’ve got to consider the Misuse of Drugs Act has been in since 1971 and we haven’t arrested the way out of the problem, have we?”
A Home Office spokesman said there was evidence “supervised use of [diamorphine] in a medical environment as part of a treatment plan can help keep patients in treatment and out of criminal behaviour”.
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