Arrested Addicts Get Free Needles

Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England), October 20, 2003 | Go to article overview

Arrested Addicts Get Free Needles


Byline: Mike Underwood

Free syringes are to be handed to drug-addicted crooks in a pioneering scheme launched today by Cleveland Police.

Intravenous drug users will be handed special packs - containing sterile needles, disposal containers and details of needle exchange facilities - when they are released from custody.

Access to specially-trained drugs counsellors will also be provided.

Officers hope the controversial project - the first of its kind in the North-east - will reduce the number of dirty needles dumped in public places where children might play.

Chief Constable Sean Price stressed today that no drugs would be supplied as part of the scheme.

"The sharing of needles and the discarding of used needles in public places are major risks in our area," he said.

"Police officers, front line workers and often young children who come across these needles are at risk of contracting highly infectious blood-borne diseases through needle stick injuries.

"By supplying clean needles, injecting equipment and containers to dispose of used needles safely we can not only reduce the risks of spreading disease within the drug using criminal community but also protect the public."

National drug charity Addaction will operate the needle provision scheme through its arrest referral workers based at the force's four main custody suites based in each district.

Police officers and staff will not be involved in providing prisoners with equipment.

Jamie Clarke, Addaction's arrest referral manager, said: "As we operate independently, people can be assured of receiving confidential advice on safer injecting techniques and harm reduction. …

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