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West Mids second force to hand out Naloxone in custody suites

West Midlands Police has become the second force to offer people with Class A drug addictions an overdose antidote as they are released from custody.

The scheme, which is funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster, will hand drug users Naloxone, a medicine which can reverse the effects of an overdose, on their way out of custody. 

In February this year Durham Constabulary become the first force to offer the drug in custody. The force already had custody officers trained in the administration of Naloxone, but the idea of handing it on release is that a friend, family member or the person overdosing can administer the drug if needed.

In West Midlands it will be handed out by staff from the charity Cranstoun as part of their Arrest Referral Service, commissioned by the PCC. Cranstoun work with offenders with drug and alcohol misuse issues to help them break their habit and to steer them away from crime. They have staff in all of the force's custody blocks who are trained in adminstering Naloxone. 

Detainees will receive advice on how to administer it by the arrest referral workers before they are released from custody.

Cranstoun will also connect drug takers with a support worker to offer guidance and advice.

Custody officers and civilian detention staff in West Midlands aren’t trained in administering Naloxone. An OPCC spokesperson said the offer had not yet been expanded to custody, and training was being rolled out primarily to neighbourhood officers first as they are more likely to come across someone overdosing.

The West Midlands PCC Simon Foster said: “Drugs cost the West Midlands £1.4bn each year.

“Rolling out Naloxone is a major part of our approach to drugs. It saves lives and will save the public sector a lot of money in the long term.

“This new initiative will see those with addiction problems offered support and advice to help them quit their habit by specialist drug workers. But obviously this is not always going to happen overnight. Through providing Naloxone we can help to reduce crime, and save lives.”

Superintendent Jane Bailey said: “Drug users are some of the most vulnerable people in our communities and are often involved in crime to fund their habit.

“While they must be properly dealt with for criminal matters, we must consider what we can do to offer support and alternative options to divert them away from a life of drugs and crime.

“Accepting that not everyone will take up the offer of support, these interventions will help with safer drug use help save lives.”

Arron Owen, National Criminal Justice Lead for Cranstoun said: "We are really excited to be able to offer Naloxone for those in police custody. The work that has gone into this demonstrates the commitment of all parties to work in partnership to reduce drug related deaths and improve health outcomes.

“We know that many of the individuals in police custody will not be accessing treatment services and will be at high risk of an overdose or contracting a blood borne virus. We hope that this initiative will reduce harm to those individuals and the wider communities.”

A total of 187 West Midlands officers are currently able to administer Naloxone, and training is ongoing. 

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