The United Kingdom is trying an unorthodox attempt to get crime down in their country, giving heroin addicts Class A drugs to cut down on robberies to fund their habits.
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“Addiction is a medical problem, not a criminal justice problem,” said Chief Constable Mike Barton. “We need to get over our moral panic about giving people heroin as part of a treatment plan.”
The plan, which was outlined by Barton, explained that addicts would be able to get their “fix” two times a day in what they called shooting galleries.
They’d be the first in the country to try such unorthodox methods. The idea came after the Durham Constabulary asked health experts for “option papers” or different methods they could use to make the plan successful.
Right now the Durham, England, anyone arrested for possession of herion is subject to seven years in federal prison.
Barton and Durham’s police both support the decrimilization of drugs in an effort to get addicts the support they need to get clean.
But there are some who feel that the government supplying drugs to addicts is a really bad idea and could become costly. Medical experts familiar with the plan claim that for an addict to receive the substance twice a day for a year would cost over $16,000.
Critics of the plan argue that it is stretching police funds and is a poor use of said funds. But the Durham Police Department is relying on their prestigious name and national ranking to sway those opposed to the plan. Last week, England proclaimed Durham the best police force in England.
The British Medical Journal agrees with the proposed plan, stating that doctors have an “ethical responsibility” to back the legalization of drugs. They argue that laws against drug use have harmed people throughout the world.
While the plan may reduce crime, it’s unclear if this will have a lasting positive effect on addicts or if it will be just another way for addicts to get free drugs.