Heroin addicts should be given access to ‘consumption rooms’ where they can safely inject heroin legally, a senior crime commissioner believes.
The controversial idea is being endorsed by Durham PCC Ron Hogg who believes that introducing the facilities, often referred to as “shooting galleries”, would help take drugs off the streets and reduce crime.
This measure only focuses on the legality of the issue, and while it might be safe and legal for users to make use of these facilities the health and mental issues that coincide with addiction are going untreated and unaccounted for.
Home Office minister Norman Baker said the government was examining drugs strategies in other countries. Related pilot projects have taken place in Brighton, Darlington and London.
Mr Hogg’s comments come after Durham Police’s Chief Constable Mike Barton called for class A drugs to be decriminalised in an article for The Observer last month.
Mr Hogg, a Labour PCC and former senior police officer, said: “The successes of trials around the world, and within Darlington, have led both myself and the Chief Constable Mike Barton to believe that using drug consumption rooms to treat heroin addiction should be explored further, certainly county-wide.
“Results published in the Lancet showed that prescribing pharmaceutical heroin in this way can reduce the use of street drugs and associated levels of crime.
“This doesn’t mean we’re going soft on drugs in any way. We are continuing to address drug dealing and organised crime groups and are not condoning drug use.
“What we are saying is that we have a group of people here who committing large numbers of crimes to feed their habits and those illegal drugs cause massive health problems.
Whilst the impact of this proposal is yet to be fully understood it seems that the health and mental problems from being a heroin addict are going untreated as users are effectively taken off the streets to use their drugs. Whether this move will impact on the level of drug-related crime or even drug-related deaths is unclear and much more research needs to be carried out before anything can be successfully implemented.
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