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.
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.
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: