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Officers are "not medics" warns Fed as PSNI roll out Naloxone

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) is warning of ‘significant risks’ with the force's roll-out of Naloxone which was used within weeks of the pilot being introduced.

The Federation says officers are “not medics” and should not be expected to “lift the slack because of gaps in other public services”.

In September 2021, a six-month pilot initiative was launched for neighbourhood officers working in Belfast City Centre to carry Naloxone. 

Seventeen officers have been trained to administer the nasal spray to those having an opioid overdose.

It was first used under the pilot on 22 September and was successful in saving a life, chief constable Simon Byrne said.

“I look forward to updating the Board on progress in coming months, but welcome support via PCSPs to generate a more joined up approach to this difficult issue.”

The pilot will be reviewed at the six month period.

Drug deaths in Northern Ireland have doubled in the tens years from 2009 to 2019.

Since 2010, over half of drug-related deaths each year have involved an opioid.

In 2019, 128 drug related deaths had an opioid mentioned on the death certificate

Mr Lindsay said: “This isn’t an issue of trying to save someone’s life. It’s what happens whenever it goes wrong, and perhaps someone dies. In that situation, the individual officer is left in the invidious position of being investigated, perhaps for many years, with the possibility of being reported for prosecution.

“There are significant risks that must be addressed. We are police officers first and foremost. We’re not medics.

“It is also an example of the police covering shortcomings in other public services.

We don’t think a trial should be taking place. We don’t think officers should be placed in that position.

“However, I am aware that the frontline officers who come across this on a daily basis want to do their best to save lives, so we will continue to work with them and the Service to ensure that a strong and workable solution to opioid overdosing is found.”

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