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Call to offer heroin through NHS

BBC, July 17, 2003

A senior police officer has joined calls for heroin to be made available on the NHS to help tackle an explosion in crack cocaine use.

Cleveland Police Det Supt Tom Stoddart said heroin is a "gateway" to crack.

He said by prescribing heroin in a controlled environment on the NHS it would destroy the market for dealers.

But director of the National Drug Prevention Alliance Peter Stoker said most police officers he had spoken to thought that would be "nuts".

Speaking on BBC Five Live, Det Supt Stoddart said it reflected the force's determination to tackle dealers head on, which it focused on with its dealer-a-day initiative.

Cleveland Police aim to catch a drug dealer every day of the year.

'Barmy idea'

He said it was also part of working closely with partner agencies to help wean people away from drugs.

He said: "The question is are we going to win the battle against organised crime?

"This will help to do this, along with action programmes to prevent young people coming into contact with the world of drug abuse."

He said the scheme would help take the profitability out of drug dealing and addicts could also be helped to wean themselves off drugs.

"If we can take the profit element out of it, it will go a good way to dealing with the problem", he said.

But Mr Stoker said: "The idea that you would dish out one drug because that might help you to reduce another one I find a bit barmy.

"Presumably if you extended this logically you would hand out alcohol on the National Health to alcoholics because not a few of them get involved at some stage in drugs."