Pubdate: Wed, 24 Oct 2007
Source: New Zealand Herald (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2007 New Zealand Herald
Author: Simon Collins
Bookmark: (Treatment)


Drug and alcohol nurses are to be stationed at two of New Zealand's
busiest police stations by January in a bid to help addicts before
their offending reaches the point where they have to be jailed.

The nurses will be at the Manukau and Christchurch police

As well, extra outpatient services for offenders will be provided
through Auckland's Community Alcohol and Drug Services.

Money for the two new initiatives will come from an extra $7 million
the Government is adding to the current $92 million set aside for drug
and alcohol treatment in the next year.

Treatment is already being expanded in prisons. The number of beds is
being increased, from 42 in mid-2006 to 272 by the time a unit opens
in the new Spring Hill prison near Meremere next July.

Counties-Manukau police operations manager Inspector Dave Simpson met
Health Ministry and district health board officials yesterday to start
planning for drug and alcohol nurses in the new Manukau police
station, which now holds all South Auckland police prisoners.

The nurses will be expected to make "brief interventions" - asking
offenders about their drinking or drug habits and offering referrals
to treatment services.

But the initiative dovetails with three new sentences that became
available on October 1, making it easier for judges to send offenders
to addiction treatment rather than jail.

They are intensive supervision, community detention and home detention
as a stand-alone sentence.

A pilot study in the now-closed Papakura police cells in 2004 found
that half of all those arrested had bought an illegal drug, and 15 per
cent had sold one, in the previous month.

Mr Simpson said addictive substances, including alcohol, were a factor
in about 70 per cent of all arrests.

"There may be a number of triggers for early intervention," he

"It doesn't have to be someone who is overtly intoxicated or under a
disability from drug use.

"It could be someone brought in for any crime who has a history of
excess-breath-alcohol [drink-driving] charges and where quite clearly
alcohol is a factor in their lives."

The Corrections Department is hiring 300 extra staff for its probation
and psychological services so it can implement the new sentences.

The Director of Mental Health, Dr David Chaplow, said the extra $7
million would also pay for more residential beds, reversing a trend
away from residential care which between 1995 and 2005 more than
halved the number of beds.

The Health Ministry has earmarked 12 new intensive residential beds
and two extra "detox" beds for Auckland and Northland in this
financial year. 
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