HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Needle Exchange at Police Stations
Pubdate: Sun, 14 Aug 2005
Source: Herald, The (UK)
Copyright: 2005 The Herald
Author: Lucy Adams, Home Affairs Correspondent
Bookmark: (Harm Reduction)
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)


OFFICERS are planning to offer free needle exchanges in police
stations to try to reduce drug related deaths in Scotland.

Figures show that last year there was a significant increase in drug
related deaths in the Strathclyde police area, despite ministerial
pledges to tackle the issue.

Though the number of deaths appears to be dropping this year, police
and drug action teams believe offering clean needles to addicts who
have been held in police custody could help to further reduce the
problem. Currently those arrested by Strathclyde police have their
dirty needles confiscated, raising concerns that this is likely to
increase the spread of HIV and hepatitis

The police policy of confiscating needles was blamed for rising levels
of HIV cases in Scotland in the 1980s. Since then a number of forces
have reviewed their approach.

Figures show that in 2004 there were 179 drug related deaths in
Strathclyde compared with about 156 the previous year. So far this
year there have been 63 compared with 109 in the same period last year.

Drug related deaths in Strathclyde make up the majority of those in
the country. The national figures, which increased last year, will be
released by the Scottish Executive at the end of this month. They are
expected to show there were approximately 300 drugs deaths in 2004.

Superintendent Alistair McKie of Strathclyde police said joint working
between the police and drug action teams has since helped to reduce
the problem.

"We are not condoning the taking of drugs, but in terms of harm
reduction we have to be aware of the health implications," he said.
"We are considering needles exchanges in police stations. Reducing the
number of drug related deaths is a constant battle and although the
figures are down this year we can not be complacent . . . 63 drugs
deaths is still 63 too many."

At a conference last week on drug related deaths Hugh Henry, the
deputy justice minister, said he would consider the issue of the
Naloxone pill, an antidote to help users recover from overdoses.
Experts also called for safer injecting rooms for homeless people and
for heroin prescribing as ways of reducing fatalities, but ministers
have not agreed to this.

Dr David Shewan, an expert in drug addiction at Glasgow Caledonian
University, said: "This is a good idea and in the long term should
help to reduce drug related deaths and the risk of spreading Hepatitis
C. But it needs to be carefully monitored to ensure it does not
increase the risk of overdose." 
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