Plans to give free heroin to addicts in drug ‘shooting galleries’ could boost addiction, critics fear
- A Home Office licence will allow police to give heroin addicts access to the drug
- Medical grade heroin will be given to the ‘most prolific offenders’ in Glasgow
- Cleveland will lead the plan – which critics have said will likely ‘attract’ addicts
A ‘shooting gallery’ could see up to 50 of the most prolific heroin addicts in Glasgow given access to the drug three times a day in an attempt to wean them off their addiction — but critics fear the scheme will lead to a rise in users.
A Home Office licence has been approved to allow the police and crime commissioner in Cleveland, UK, to provide medical grade heroin to its ‘most prolific’ drug addicts — before Glasgow is expected to follow suit later this year.
Under the licence, which was approved in Cleveland this month, addicts will be supervised while they inject themselves three times a day at a specialised centre, according to the Sunday Telegraph.
The Home Office licence will allow the police and crime commissioner in Cleveland, UK, to use medical grade heroin to help users wean themselves of the drug (file image)
Usually anyone caught with heroin can be jailed for up to seven years, but this licence will offer users access to the drugs without penalty — a move previously blasted as something that will ‘attract’ addicts.
Speaking about a similar plan in 2017 Professor Neil McKeganey, director of the Centre for Substance Use Research, said: ‘I think the worry here is that once you set up a centre like this, it will attract addicts and they will remain dependent on heroin, undermining services committed to getting people off drugs.
‘I think it’s extraordinary if the police budget is being used in this way.’
An autumn launch in Cleveland will be followed by the creation of a ‘heroin assisted treatment’ (HAP) centre in Glasgow.
Some 40 or 50 of the city’s 400 registered heroin users will then be given access to the drug in an attempt to eventually wean them off it.
The council and NHS in Glasgow have already recruited staff and started converting a building in the east end of the city.
An autumn launch in Cleveland will be followed by the creation of a ‘heroin assisted treatment’ (HAP) centre in Glasgow (file image)
West Midlands, Durham and Avon and Somerset police and crime commissioners could then follow suit.
The scheme is estimated to cost £12,000 a year per addict, but could ultimately save money, according to authorities in Cleveland.
Each heroin addict is estimated to cost the taxpayer £20,000 a year in crime and NHS expenses.
Barry Coppinger, Cleveland police and crime commissioner, said the 15 addicts selected to receive the treatment were the ‘most prolific offenders’.
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