Police will continue to give out ‘DIY drug kits’ – but critics fear the scheme is sending out the wrong message and adds to dirty needles littering the city.
The three-month trial by Cambridgeshire police has now been extended indefinitely and could be adopted by other forces.
Police claim the controversial scheme helps addicts kick the habit. It began at Parkside police station in Cambridge on June 7 and was due to run for a week but was extended until August, as the News reported.
The ‘kits’ – offered to addicts leaving custody – contain clean needles and advice on how to find the best veins.
Now police have announced the trial – the first in the country to provide such packs to intravenous drug users at a police custody suite – will go on indefinitely, claiming it helps addicts kick the habit.
Drugs workers and medical examiners have been handing the kit to suspects in a bid to slow the spread of HIV and hepatitis. But campaigners and residents claim the move clouds the issue of tackling drugs.
Georgina Deards, 71, of Budleigh Close, off Perne Road, has found needles ditched near her home.
She said: “If they are going to give addicts needles they should make them bring back the old ones before they get new ones.
“But I don’t think we’ll ever get over this problem and the needles will just get dumped. It’s a shocking problem in Cambridge.”
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “This is sending out utterly mixed messages about drug use.”
The kits are provided by drug and alcohol treatment charity Addaction.
Several kits have been handed to addicts, and one man, aged in his 20s, is now being treated by drugs workers.
Shelley Ward, drugs project support officer, said: “The packs are a harm reduction kit, they are aimed at looking after the individual and hopefully getting them into treatment.
“Addaction are continuing to supply us with the kits and we will continue with the project. The more people we can speak to and give help and advice to, the more chance we have of breaking the cycle they are in.
“This initiative provides a lifeline to addicts to get treatment and get out of the criminal system.
“We have had one addict who has agreed to engage with treatment. He spoke to a drugs worker and did want to change his life. Without the intervention he would still be in that cycle.”
The announcement comes after an emergency summit was held last week about how to tackle the number of dirty syringes being discarded in Cambridge.
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