1. ITV Report

Drug addicts to be given heroin in bid to tackle crime

Photo: PA

Drug users could be prescribed heroin in new plans announced by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner.

David Jamieson wants to tackle the costs of drugs to public services, reduce drug-related crime and to lower the number of drug-related deaths in the region.

Under the proposals, heroin users would be offered the drug in a medical setting and would only be given to those who had not responded to other forms of treatment.

Jamieson claims this would take the market away from organised criminals and stop people stealing to fund their addiction.

The drugs would be administered in a medical environment Credit: PA

Other parts of the proposals include:

  • Establishing a formal scheme to divert those suffering from addiction into treatment and away from the courts.
  • Joining up police, community safety and public health funding streams to increase efficiency and improve outcomes for those suffering from addiction.
  • Equipping and training police officers in the application of naloxone - a medication that can be used to help those overdosing.
  • Establishing a Drug Early Warning Programme, to make the public, outreach workers and medical professionals aware of the impact of emerging drugs. The aim is to reduce the number of deaths.
  • Ensuring more money is seized from large-scale organised criminal gangs, profiting from the misery of the drugs trade. The extra money will be invested in drug treatment programmes.
David Jamieson wants to reduce the impact of drug-use in the West Midlands Credit: PA
The amount money used to treat substance misuse in the West Midlands every year

The proposals come after a report published by the Commissioner estimates the cost of substance misuse in the West Midlands to be £1.4 billion every year.

The same report also suggests that half of all burglary, theft, shoplifting and robbery is committed by people suffering from serious addiction to drugs including heroin and crack cocaine.

The same drugs are thought to be responsible for one death every three days in the region.

Speaking about the new proposals, Jamieson said:

Despite the good work being done by many, collectively our approach to drugs is failing. Drugs are costing the West Midlands £1.4 billion each year. It means people are forced to live with more crime, public services are put under strain and not enough is done to reduce the suffering of those who are addicted. If we are to cut crime and save lives there's one thing we can all agree on; we need fresh ideas.

– David Jamieson, West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner

These proposals tackle the drugs market head on, hitting the organised criminals profiting from the misery of others. By the end of my term of office in 2020, I hope many of these proposals are in place and having an effect - reducing crime, but also the suffering of those addicted to drugs. These proposals will save the public sector money by reducing the strain on services that currently exists.

– David Jamieson, West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner