Heroin at a local level
These minutes were taken at a local council meeting, and involved the community affairs committee. The meeting occurred in 1999 at a local town hall.
The county Drug Action Team (DAT), represented by AA, is the strategic group for all substance misuse issues in Lincolnshire.
The team comprises of the chief officers of the following agencies....
1. The Police
2. Probation Service
3. The local health authority
4. Prison service
5. Social Services
6. Education and Housing
The team is chaired by the chief constable of the county. There are 111 of these teams across the country, and there are four primary aims...
1. Young people: To help them resist drugs and achieve their full potential within society
2. Communities: To protect our communities from drug related, anti social and criminal behaviour.
3. Treatment: Enable people with problems to understand
4. Availability: To stifle it, and create awareness of local drug spots.
Nationally there was a total of 418 individuals recorded on their database (1997/8), yet most were based on amphetamines, cannabis and then heroin. In 1998 there were 739 services, but this time the most common drug was heroin, followed by amphetamines. Of the heroin users who shared needles, 17% were females.
According to DAT representative, we are a pro active team. We don't just look at figures and accept them. We know that the country is lacking and that we need to look at all levels of provision. We want to work alongside the community and look at education, prevention and delaying that first encounter. DAT resisted putting alcohol in strategy, yet it is referred to as a gateway drug.
Vice chairman: In our town it is the young element who try drugs. That is where the route of the problem lies, with 9, 10 and 11 year olds
DAT: It is the issue of availability. We have a very good school policy. We are committed to encourage and support schools to use our programmes. Keeping young people engaged is the main problem.
Counseller: Today I have heard nothing, theres talk about the community but what is going to be done? Figures may show reported use, but what about unreported use. Once youngsters are hooked that's it. Education is fine but a lot of kids ignore it. We need something to stop the users and dealers.
DAT: The action will be carried out by the agencies. It is our job not to carry out actions, but to walk with those who do. As for the problem, it is very difficult to get an overall picture.
Counseller: Over the past five years there have been programmes at school, but parents would not come to listen. I set up a workshop on an estate on Saturday and in a full day not one person turned up. Youngsters are almost fending for themselves.
Counseller: The drug of choice in our town has gone from cannabis to heroin. What we need to know is if there are pushers in council houses can they be ejected? Do these people have to offend to get help? Where are the drug referral groups? Do we have an adequate needle exchange?
DAT: Well the issue of housing is a police matter. As for a needle exchange, we wanted to pilot public bins for needles but there was a lot of opposition.
Housing manager: Providing there is evidence we will look to evict drug dealers.
Police: We must raise awareness in schools, enforcement alone is not the answer. The end of the drug network occurs in our town. We are the end of the chain. We do have a specific operation in place at the moment, and MI5 do work with the police on some events. However we cannot work on anonymous information alone. The drug world thrives on lies, deceit, corruption and blackmail. For every dealer convicted there are others ready to take their place. In school we have the primary school initiative (DIPSI). It has been with schools since 1994 but only a handful use it. When heroin arrives from abroad it is 96% pure, yet on the streets it is 24% pure.
END OF MEETING
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