Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa today praised the “dedicated” partnerships underway to help vulnerable people tackle their drug and alcohol problems across the county.
In a meeting of his Strategic Priorities Assurance (SPA) Board, the Commissioner was updated on the various multiagency initiatives he has spearheaded to tackle drug and alcohol crime and antisocial behaviour.
Mr Dhindsa remains the national lead on Alcohol and Substance Misuse on behalf of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) and led the development of the City Centre Summit in Derby and the Town Centre Summit in Chesterfield, a model of intervention which has been recognised nationally for its success.
The approach brought together an array of partner agencies to tackle ‘mamba’ use and drug-linked antisocial behaviour in the city centre which has so far supported 58 people, including rough sleepers, to find accommodation and access drug and alcohol treatment services.
Further progress has included specialist training for bar staff and licensees, the introduction of taxi marshals and street pastors increasing the safety of revellers, and the launch of the ‘Ask for Angela’ campaign in conjunction with charity SV2 urging people who feel uncomfortable or unsafe to discreetly ask bar staff for help.
Operationally, the force has continued to deliver proactive enforcement including Operation Halifax last summer in Derby City which led to 88 arrests connected to the supply of ‘mamba’ and the recovery of drugs including heroin and crack cocaine.
Commenting on the success, Mr Dhindsa said: “Together with our partners, we are helping people at all ends of the spectrum access vital support for their problems including those who live their lives in the grip of addition, the homeless and young people who are vulnerable to alcohol and drug use in the future.
“Alongside treatment, we are working hard to tackle the root causes of alcohol and drug dependency and it has always been my argument that this is critical to the prevention of crime and mental health crisis in the long-term.
“While we clearly are making a difference, there is much more to do including the collection of more in-depth data to fully understand the issues. There is also a need to continually monitor and evaluate the impact of our work to ensure our efforts are channelled in the most effective ways. This is one area we will look to intensify in the coming months.”
The number of alcohol-related crimes recorded in Derbyshire in 2018-19 rose by 19.2% while the proportion of alcohol-related incidents in comparison to all crime fell by -9.5% during the same period. The force has increased officer training to improve recording systems which it believes has resulted in the increased rate of alcohol-related crimes.
Figures show there are around 1,900 heroin users in Derby City, 3,222 dependent drinkers and 9,000 harmful drinkers. In 2017-18, a total of 1,875 people accessed the City’s drug and alcohol treatment services.
Meanwhile, around 50 young people or children in the City require treatment for drug and alcohol use each year. Although the figure represents a small proportion of the 60,000 ‘under 18s’ living in the city, there are nevertheless a growing number of young people experimenting with drugs and alcohol.
As a result, the PCC jointly launched 1625 Outreach alongside Derbyshire County Council – a service that engages with, advises and supports young people aged between 16 and 25 in the county who are using drugs or alcohol or are at risk of using them.
The service delivers workshops on substance use in educational settings and attends festivals and other events where drug/alcohol use is likely to be prevalent, including outreach work in the night time economy.
“We are working hard to support vulnerable people but it’s also recognised many residents are drinking more alcohol than the recommended 14 units per week, as evidenced by Derbyshire’s high hospital admissions for alcohol-related illness,” said Mr Dhindsa.
“There is a need for more generalised awareness work about the harmful effects of drinking too much incorporating all those who live and work in Derbyshire.”
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Posted on Thursday 23rd May 2019