No plans to change drug policy in West Yorkshire

Mark Burns-Williamson
Mark Burns-Williamson

West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has no plans to change drug treatment policy by prescribing medical grade heroin to addicts.

Mark Burns-Williamson’s comments follow a call by his counterpart in County Durham, Ron Hogg, who suggested that prescribing the drug to addicts in a controlled place would reduce crime and provide greater health benefits than the current system.

Mr Burns-Williamson said: “This is an extremely complex and wide ranging issue. I personally believe that tackling drug and substance misuse requires a mix of education, support and enforcement working closely with a range of partners and something that I believe needs to be reviewed on a cross-party basis at government level.

“We are not currently planning to introduce treatment centres in West Yorkshire. However we are interested in any learning that comes out of Durham.

“People who are addicted to drugs can find help from a range of other services here in West Yorkshire and we are continually looking at how we improve the support we provide to people across our communities.

“I have also given Safer Communities funding directly to a number of projects and schemes that are helping to tackle drug/substance abuse across West Yorkshire.”

Seven PCCs have said they would consider or back heroin-assisted treatment. There is some support for the changes but they are often considered to be politically unpopular.

The government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs said that over the last four years the number of reported drug misuse deaths involving opioids, including heroin, rose by 58 per cent in England.