Nightclub revellers could have their illegal drugs tested by police to ensure they are not contaminated or poisoned under bold new plans by the Police and Crime Commissioner.
David Jamieson argues the controversial move could save the public sector millions of pounds by enabling clubbers to avoid an unexpected and very expensive trip to accident and emergency.
Much of the cost of drugs falls on the under-strain NHS.
Under the controversial proposal police would set up a portable ab in popular nightspot locations like Broad Street or Southside, where testing could be carried out on illegal drugs such ecstasy and cocaine.
If a package is found to be pure the user can keep it, But if mixed with rat poison or some other contaminant, the user would surrender it.
Police could use the data gathered from the scheme to monitor the extent of drug use.
The commissioner's wider drugs strategy also proposes developing ‘fix rooms’ to provide heroin for hardened addicts to stop them stealing to fund their habits.
The aim is to slash the 50 per cent of burglaries, robberies and car thefts caused by addicts.
Further measures include encouraging the courts to seize more money from organised crime gangs and ensure it is diverted into drug treatment schemes.
Mr Jamieson said: “We currently have an approach that is soft on the big-time criminals who are profiting from the misery of others and weak on giving people the support they need to recover from addiction.
“Despite the good work being done by many, collectively our approach to drugs is failing.
“It means people are forced to live with more crime, public services are put under strain and not enough is done to reduce the suffering of those who are addicted.
“If we are to cut crime and save lives there’s one thing we can all agree on; we need fresh ideas.
“These are bold, but practical proposals that will reduce crime, the cost to the public purse and the terrible harm caused by drugs.”
The Commissioner’s proposals:
- 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 is 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 programs.