Examination of Witnesses (Questions 360
TUESDAY 20 NOVEMBER 2001
360. I will be very quick. Presumably you are
not saying that GPs should administer heroin. Would you leave
that down to drug centres or special centres?
(Mr Howard) I think the important thing is that somebody
is competent and licensed and regulated to use this. If a GP has
demonstrated their competence with the local medical regulatory
bodies there seems to be no reason why a GP should not prescribe.
361. And no worries about leakage?
(Mr Howard) I think there will always be worries about
that. Again, I declare an interest in that I was on the Department
of Health Chief Medical Officer's Advisory Group that drew up
the clinical guidelines. The evidence we have from around the
world is that the supervised consumption of methadone and supervised
consumption generally leads to less leakage. I think there are
steps that can be put in place there.
Mr Watson: I will leave it there.
362. Just one final point for Mr Hayman perhaps.
I talked to a drug addict last week who said he had just come
back from Germany and in Germany they had shooting galleries,
as he called them, safe areas to which presumably the police do
not pay much attention where heroin addicts can go to inject in
private and also with access to clean needles and also not leaving
needles lying around in the street afterwards. Is that something
you might look favourably upon?
(Mr Hayman) It does fit well into the harm reduction
discussion and if indications from our colleagues in the medical
profession are that that can be controlled in a way which people
are content then with clearly from ACPO's perspective it does
reduce the tension in the community and all the erosion of the
community that we know occurs.
363. It also involves you turning a blind eye,
does it not, to some extent?
(Mr Hayman) If you go to Amsterdam, of course, there
are similarities, maybe not with such serious consequences, around
prostitution and the way in which they have created safe areas
there. I am arguing a fairly more liberal perspective. I am saying
that a lot of people are more informed than the Police Service
is as to whether or not that is dangerous.
364. Mr Morris, yes or no, would you go along
with shooting galleries?
(Mr Morris) Yes, if carefully controlled. In Switzerland
when they first did it it caused a lot of problems but I think
they have learned from that.
(Mr Howard) If I could just make one point. I think
we need to thoroughly review the operational effectiveness of
shooting galleries, shooting rooms, and things like that. Can
I also make the point, and I hope you will look at this, there
was a very hasty and perhaps ill-conceived pre-Election amendment
to Section 8 of the Misuse of Drugs Act which really makes any
harm reduction efforts like this very, very difficult. My members
and a lot of people out there came up with the Cambridge casesome
of you will be familiar with thatand I would urge you that
the ability to be able to do that is inextricably linked to reviewing
what Section 8 is.
365. Section 8?
(Mr Howard) Of the Misuse of Drugs Act about allowing
the use of premises to be used for controlled drugs.
366. One other point on Drug Treatment and Testing
Orders. Evidence has been offered to us that they were rolled
out despite the fact all the indications were they were not working.
Does anybody agree with that? Mr Hayman?
(Mr Hayman) I think I may want to ask Jonathon.
(Mr Ledger) The only thing we were concerned about
was that they appeared to be under-evaluated. We were not so clear
about whether or not they were failing but there were 200 people
in the three pilot studies who were subject to the orders at that
point and that did not seem to us to be a very large sample on
which to base the roll out of the programme which has now taken
place. We were concerned not that it was not a good initiative
but that it had not been properly researched and, therefore, if
we do these things we have got to do them properly otherwise it
reflects badly on
367. It was rolled out without due consideration?
(Mr Ledger) Without proper evaluation. Within three
months of the pilot projects finishing.
368. Mr Nick Davies, who gave evidence to us
the other day, said that the results so far were that overwhelmingly
it was not working.
(Mr Ledger) We heard some bad examples. I would not
want to go to the length that Nick Davies has gone. We certainly
had concerns and felt there should be proper evaluation and possibly
further pilot areas because 200 is not a lot to base a national
369. Thank you. Mr Howard?
(Mr Howard) I would not agree that they are not working.
We have endorsed the use of Drug Treatment and Testing Orders.
They were rolled out fairly quickly, that is true, but I think
there is sufficient evidence to show that well structured, well
organised and well run programmes can achieve significant results.
I think what we are finding from the early pilots and the early
introduction is that process factors were very important in setting
these up. They can work. I would not be as pessimistic as others
about looking at the long-term impact of these.
370. Do you agree that they were rolled out
(Mr Howard) No, I am not going to agree that they
were rolled out too early. There was a desperate need to improve
and increase treatment. We would all like longer term evaluation,
nobody is denying that. Could I also say where we do have a serious
problem is about the introduction of Drug Abstinence Orders because
it is our view that there is an expectation that people who may
have severe problems will not get access to treatment.It is not
part of that process. We lobbied and we failed in trying to get
conditions of treatment attached. We think it is irresponsible
to have Drug Abstinence Orders without treatment guaranteed and
available to people who need it.
371. Because it sets people up for failure?
(Mr Howard) Indeed.
(Mr Ledger) I endorse that entirely.
Chairman: Gentlemen, thank you very much.