Charity leader's fury over snub

A CHARITY leader today criticised Ipswich community leaders for failing to confront the town's growing drug problem.Brian Tobin, manager of the town's Iceni Project, spoke of his frustration after the charity's open day was snubbed by more than 100 businesses, GPs and magistrates.

A CHARITY leader today criticised Ipswich community leaders for failing to confront the town's growing drug problem.

Brian Tobin, manager of the town's Iceni Project, spoke of his frustration after the charity's open day was snubbed by more than 100 businesses, GPs and magistrates.

Mr Tobin, who runs the self-funding counselling service, said: “The attitude is that drug users should be put up against the wall and shot. This event gave people the opportunity to change attitudes. Prison doesn't work, drug crime is rising every year and there are more people in treatment.

“There is so much that can be done but we cannot do it on our own. People keep putting drug users to the back of their minds.


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“They are human beings addicted to drugs and it is a lengthy, recurring illness.”

The event gave officials the opportunity to meet with and question those who have battled addiction and to learn something of the issues affecting drug users.

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Mr Tobin invited representatives from 60 businesses to the event as well as 50 GPs and all of the town's magistrates, yet not one of them attended.

Ipswich Borough Council officials and members of Suffolk Drug and Alcohol Action Team (DAAT) did attend, but Mr Tobin feels the turn-out was not good enough.

He added: “Magistrates need educating. They are there to apply the law of the land and will sit back and see black and white with a drug user. It is better with Drug Treatment and Testing orders and we are way above the national average in success rates but it would be nice if magistrates understood a bit more about addiction.

“If we did a bucket collection and the RSPCA were doing one on the same day, you know what bucket would get full first.

“We are not a cuddly charity. We are not fluffy and woolly or a cancer charity which tugs at everyone's heart strings.

“If people ignore drugs then it will end up tremendously more difficult to tackle the problem as a community and crime will continue to go up.”

Mr Tobin said the cost of crime to the community was already considerable with drug users' offences costing an average of £18,000 per user each year.

With hundreds of people in the county addicted to drugs, the cost runs into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Bill Johnson, area manager legal for South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court, said: “The invitation arose two days before the event.

“The magistrates are aware of the work of Iceni and are positive about its work.”

Mr Johnson said members of Iceni had visited magistrates in the past to discuss their work.

N How do you think drug use should be tackled? Write to us at Evening Star Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk>

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