Jen Mills, Metro News, October 6, 2019
Heroin addicts will be given free drugs to self administer as part of a scheme run by Cleveland Police starting this month.
Some of the most prolific offenders in Middlesbrough will be the first to make use of the scheme, which is aimed at cutting crime and rehabilitating them.
They will be able to inject medical-grade heroin three times a day at a special NHS clinic.
The scheme is aimed at breaking the cycle of people committing crime to get money for drugs and ending up in prison.
The annual cost of the scheme is £440,000, according to the Mail on Sunday.
It was created by Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger, who announced he would stand down next year after a report branded his force inadequate across all areas.
Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen told the paper: ‘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.’
Mr Coppinger has previously said the trial will be available to drug users ‘for whom all other treatment has failed and who are known to be the most active criminals in the town as they look to finance their addiction’.
He said taxpayers would actually save money, because less would be spent on NHS and police resources.
This trial is expected to be followed by another in nearby Darlington, run by Durham Police.