Home Office backs heroin on the NHS in effort to cut crime
****sorry no crack just heroin****
By Marie Woolf, Political Editor
Published: 25 February 2007
Heroin is to be prescribed on the NHS to hard-core drug addicts under secret plans being prepared by the Government.
The move to use injectable heroin follows the success of trials in London, Brighton and the North-east on drug users who fail to respond to treatment and who commit crimes to finance their habit.
The proposal follows a recommendation in a restricted Home Office report on crime, which proposes prescribing heroin to addicts and licensing sales of heroin and crack cocaine.
The paper, drawn up by the Home Office strategic policy team, a copy of which has been obtained by The Independent on Sunday, says: "The Home Office should consider wider rolling out of injectable heroin prescription for highly dependent users through the NHS."
It adds: "Given the failure of supply-side interventions to have any significant effect on the drugs market, it is worth considering a greater management of the market by wider rolling out of injectable heroin prescription for highly dependent users through the NHS."
Civil servants say that in Switzerland, where doctors prescribe heroin rather than methadone to "recidivist veteran users", 26 per cent have given it up, and criminality and unemployment have been reduced.
The Home Office document, marked "Restricted Policy", says: "Contrary to popular belief, there is evidence that heroin does not necessarily intoxicate the user - it can be stabilised with people living relatively normal lives."
Home Office sources said yesterday that three trials of heroin prescription have produced positive preliminary results. The NHS prescriptions are likely to be made available to hard-core users across the country next year. The Home Office said that only persistent users who have failed to respond to methadone would qualify.
"It is only going to apply to a small number of people," said a Home Office spokesman.
The scheme would cost an estimated £12,000 a year per addict, but could save thousands more on the cost of prison, court and police time.
The review warns that the Government is fighting a losing battle against drug smugglers. "There is mounting evidence of the impossibility of winning the war against drugs supply," it says. It suggests legalising the supply of drugs and licensing their distribution or supplying them "over the counter" to combat crime.
"A system of controlled availability of drugs would allow the Government to exert a much greater degree of influence over the way in which substances are used than is currently possible," says the report, which was scrutinised by Downing Street.
This is great news, that will have a very positive impact on the crime rate. Smart Move. Wish the USA was doing the same thing, but all we are doing is building more jails. 25% of the people incarcerated in the world live in the US.