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The government has backed the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner’s proposals to tackle drugs.

Responding to a question in Parliament, the Policing Minister Nick Hurd said: “The government welcomes the focus the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner places on drugs in his report entitled ‘reducing crime and preventing harm’.”

The written question to the Home Secretary was made by Grahame Morris MP who asked about the merits of the PCCs new drug policy recommendations.

The Policing Minister went on to say: “In most parts, the local approach outlined in the Police and Crime Commissioner’s report aligns with the Government’s vision.”

Officials from the Home Office have met with the PCC to discuss the recommendations in his report.

Commenting on the government’s backing of his plans, the PCC said: “I’m delighted my common sense proposals for drug treatment reforms are gathering momentum.

“We have been losing the war on drugs for a long time, but finally it seems that positive steps are being taken.

“I look forward to working closely with the government on real changes to the way we treat drug addicts”.

The PCC’s proposals to tackle drugs 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.
    • Prescribing heroin in a medical setting to people suffering from addiction who have not responded to other forms of treatment. This will take the market away from organised criminals and stop people stealing to fund their addiction. Work with the Home Office, who have championed the benefits of Heroin Assisted Treatment.
    • 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.
    • Introducing on-site testing in night-time economy areas to reduce the number of deaths and increase the authorities’ intelligence of drugs in circulation.
    • Considering the benefits of Drug Consumption Rooms to assess if they would add value to current services in the West Midlands. Drug Consumption Rooms allow people suffering from addiction to access clean equipment, medical support and drug treatment services.
    • 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.

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The proposals follow a  detailed report already published by the Commissioner on the cost of drugs to the West Midlands. It estimated that the cost of substance misuse in the West Midlands is £1.4 billion each year. Half of all burglary, theft, shoplifting and robbery is committed by people suffering from serious addiction to drugs including heroin and crack cocaine. Every three days in the West Midlands somebody dies from drug poisoning, while organised criminals are profiting from this misery.

There has also been a consultation and  wide-ranging summit that brought top politicians, health professionals and drugs experts together to find new ways of tackling the problem of drugs in the West Midlands.

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