Drug addicts will be given free heroin to stop them committing crimes as part of a radical new trial by Britain’s Cleveland Police, writes Tom Davidson for the Mirror. The most prolific offenders in Middlesbrough will be able to inject the Class A drug three times a day at a special NHS clinic from this month.
It's part of a new scheme launched by the 'failing' Cleveland Police.
The scheme, the first of its kind in England, was created by under-fire Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger.
His office is providing almost a third of the annual £440,000 cost, according to the Mirror.
The idea is to wean addicts, many of whom are behind a string of offences, off the drug with medical-grade heroin.
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary recently rated Cleveland, which has had six chief constables in as many years, inadequate in every area. In the wake of the report, Coppinger said he would stand down as Cleveland PCC next year.
Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen told The Mail on Sunday: "Barry Coppinger has consistently failed the people of Cleveland and its serving police officers – now he is actively undermining efforts to tackle drug addiction.
"It is not right for a commissioner who has failed so badly, and is stepping down in a matter of months, to make the Cleveland force area a guinea pig for an experimental new drugs policy when he won’t even be around to face its consequences.
"I’m sure most right-thinking people would rather see the hundreds of thousands of pounds he is squandering on this spent on getting the basics right, by investing in frontline policing."
The Mail reports that the 15 people chosen for the pilot scheme are addicts with criminal records.
Early research found that 20 of the most hardcore addicts in the North East town – some of whom will now get free heroin in the project – had committed a total of 351 offences such as shoplifting in two years, “costing society £784,890”.
The Middlesbrough trial is expected to be followed by another in Darlington, run by neighbouring Durham Police, the Mirror reports.