CRIME FEARS OVER DRUG SERVICE CUTS; City MP Fears Slashed Funding Could Send Offences Soaring

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Byline: Les Reid

HUGE funding cuts of 25 per cent for services to combat drug abuse in Coventry and Warwickshire will see crime soaring, a city MP has warned.

Bob Ainsworth, a former Home Office minister responsible for drugs policy, says he has learned the budget for all the city and county's drug treatment is to be slashed from pounds 11m to pounds 8m.

He fears long-term heroin addicts will simply fall back into the hands of drug dealers and into a life of crime - including burglary, theft and prostitution - to feed their habit.

He says services are already trimmed to the bone, and city drugs advisors fear the cuts will mean fewer hard drug users receiving treatment.

The Coventry North east MP says he knows from his ministerial experience of the strong link between heroin use and acquisitive crime. Mr Ainsworth also fears the economic downturn - when trends show drug use increases - will add to the problem.

Independent forecasts by Price-Waterhouse Cooper last week forecast one million job losses over the next four years resulting from the government seeking to eliminate the national deficit. The forecast is in line with earlier Whitehall expectations. It is understood a major contract for drugs advisory services in Coventry and Warwickshire is due for renewal. An advice and treatment service has been provided by the Coventry Community Drug Team, based in Ironmonger Row, city centre -which is managed by NHS Covent r y. …