West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson has travelled to Switzerland on a fact-finding mission as part of his pledge to tackle the scourge of drugs. He examined how the Swiss state has reduced crime and drug related deaths. As well as touring various facilities the PCC met former Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss – who pioneered many of the country’s current approaches.
In February the PCC launched a set of practical proposals to tackle the cost of drugs to public services, reduce drug related crime and the shocking number of deaths in the region. The Commissioner’s whistle-stop tour examined how some of those proposals are working in practice.
The PCC visiting a HAT facility in Geneva
With drugs costing public services in the West Midlands £1.4 billion each year, as well causing half of all acquisitive crime, including theft and burglary, PCC David Jamieson has pledged to take action.
David Jamieson met with the former President of Switzerland Ruth Dreifuss on the trip. He also visited Champs Ballon Prison, Heroin Assisted Treatment and Drug Consumption Centres in Geneva, as well Safety Testing facilities in Bern.
Former President Ruth Dreifuss pioneered many of the country’s harm reduction measures, which have seen drug related crime and deaths fall dramatically. She advised the Commissioner on how she implemented changes in Switzerland.
David Jamieson meeting with former President of Switzerland Ruth Dreifuss
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, said: “I am committed to tackling drug-related crime, reduce the huge burden on the tax payer and cut the number of drug related deaths.
“Despite the good work being done by many, collectively our approach to drugs is failing. That’s why I travelled to Switzerland to see what is working and what isn’t.
“The Swiss approach is cutting crime, saving lives and reducing the burden on the tax payer.
“I will take on board their practical approach as I work with other agencies to put my proposals into practice.”
The Commissioner’s proposals, published in February, 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.
A Safety Testing facility in BernBack to News Archive