New bid to tackle drug abuse

A NEW scheme to keep persistent offenders and drug users on the right track is officially under way in west Suffolk today.The scheme, called Western Compass, involves agencies which include Suffolk Constabulary, SCARS (Suffolk Community Arrest Referral Service), and the West Suffolk Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships.

A NEW scheme to keep persistent offenders and drug users on the right track is officially under way in west Suffolk today.

The scheme, called Western Compass, involves agencies which include Suffolk Constabulary, SCARS (Suffolk Community Arrest Referral Service), and the West Suffolk Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships.

Suffolk County Council community safety unit, the Salvation Army, Suffolk Drug Action Team (DAT) and the Probation Service are also onside.

Launching the initiative, High Sheriff of Suffolk Lady Euston, said: "This is an exciting project that will have a very positive effect on members of our community.


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"Research indicates that a relatively small number of habitual drug users commit 50 per cent of all acquisitive crime such as burglary, car crime and robbery to feed their habit. They also account for 99 per cent of the social costs associated with substance misuse.

"Police officers, health workers and a number of organisations are working side by side in an attempt to reduce the number of victims of such crime by curbing the criminality of some of the most persistent offenders in the west of the county. The scheme will also have a direct impact on reducing the associated social costs of such individuals, normally fronted by the taxpayer."

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Chief Superintendent Mark Cordell said: "Fortunately we have one of the lowest crime rates in the country but we still have our share of heroin and crack addicted persistent offenders. By the nature of the crimes these individuals commit, they can have an extremely negative effect on the wider community. Anyone who has been a victim of a robbery or a burglary will tell you how traumatising it can be.

"This will not be tolerated in Suffolk and we are now working with our partners to address this and break what can be an extremely vicious cycle of substance misuse and criminality.

"I have no doubt that in one area of West Suffolk, where the majority of people that are on the scheme are from, the project has contributed to a 50 per cent reduction in shoplifting and a 27 per cent reduction in thefts from motor vehicles."

The scheme, as well as reducing crime, will also have an impact on a wide range of public health issues.

Carey Godfrey, Suffolk Drug Action Team Co-ordinator, said: "Western Compass is a new partnership development that not only reduces crime but also gives the offenders the opportunity to address their drug problem.

"It is an holistic approach, which not only looks at clinical issues such as prescribing but also counselling, relapse prevention, housing, employment, debt and finance management, harm reduction, and other social issues."

By ensuring clients on the scheme gain immediate access to monitored treatment, it is hoped that their habit will be brought under control. Once this has been done, the client is given assistance to access housing, education, benefits and ultimately employment.

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