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New approach to tackling drug addiction in Middlesbrough unveiled


The Heroin Assisted Treatment clinic in Middlesbrough

A pioneering treatment and recovery programme aimed at freeing the most entrenched heroin users from addiction is launched next week.

The Middlesbrough Heroin Assisted Treatment (HAT) programme, the first of its kind in the UK, has the following aims:

  • Reduce the number of street deaths caused through heroin addiction.
  • Promote independence, long term recovery and desistance from offending behaviour.
  • Provide respite for local residents and businesses so often the victims of crime to fund addiction.
  • Remove the health risks associated with street heroin and drug litter.
  • Free up the substantial public resources, including health and police, currently dealing with the problem.
  • Cut off the funding stream to drugs gangs.

The pilot has been drawn up following extensive research and evidential study from home and abroad. It will focus on up to 15 of the most ‘at risk’ individuals within Middlesbrough, for whom all other treatment has failed and who are causing most concern to criminal justice agencies, as well as health and social care services.

Under the programme, participants will visit a clinical facility twice a day where diamorphine (medical grade heroin) will be administered under supervision.

With the need to constantly fund street heroin removed, individuals can then engage on a one-to-one basis at the clinic with various agencies including health, housing and welfare to get their lives back on track and return to mainstream society.

The scheme has been organised and part funded by Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland Barry Coppinger, with the clinical team led by Daniel Ahmed of the Foundations Medical Practice.

Funding has also been provided by Durham Tees Valley Community Rehabilitation Company and the Tees and Wear Prisons Group and enhances existing staff resource provided by South Tees Public Health.

Mr Ahmed, said: “This treatment and recovery pilot is aimed at those for whom all other current methods have failed. They are on a cycle of offending, committing crime to raise funds for street heroin, being arrested and going to prison, being released and offending again. The cycle often only ends when they die, often in the street.

“Before joining the pilot, each of the cohort is medically assessed and the appropriate course of diamorphine is prescribed and administered under supervision daily at a specialist clinic. This removes the constant need to commit crime in order to fund street heroin addiction.”

Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, Barry Coppinger, said: “The policies of the past have failed. If we are serious about tackling and preventing addiction we need to listen to the experts, take notice of the evidence and act decisively.

“Police need to continue to relentlessly target the organised gangs and dealers behind the supply of street heroin and at the same time we need to provide effective treatment to release users from their snares and take early preventive action to prevent others becoming addicted.

“There are numerous studies that show HAT is cost-effective. In Middlesbrough the most prolific cohort of 20 drug-dependent offenders have cost the public purse almost £800,000 over two years – and that’s based only on crime detected.

“By removing street heroin from the equation you remove the need to commit crime to fund addiction and the impact this has on local residents and businesses, you remove the health risks of street heroin and the associated drugs litter and you remove the drain on public services including health and police. In addition you halt the flow of funding to drugs gangs.

“Once treatment is underway the cohort can engage at the clinic with partner agencies such as health, housing and welfare to hopefully rebuild their lives, re-engage with family, if appropriate, and become contributing members of society.”

The pilot will be independently evaluated and, if successful, Mr Coppinger intends to use funding from the Proceeds of Crime Act to extend it for a second year and across all four boroughs of Cleveland.

“Currently we receive just 18% of the money seized under POCA to use in crime prevention. I will be pressing the Home Office for a greater share of this in future so this pilot can be extended. It would be justice in action to see the money seized from organised crime and drugs gangs used to bring lasting benefit to the communities where they have caused most harm.”

Click below to read more about the Heroin Assisted Treatment programme

 Graphics for HAT video

Posted on Wednesday 9th October 2019
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