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Drug addicts will get free heroin under new UK police-led scheme

Drug addicts will get free heroin under new UK police-led scheme
Addicts will be given access to free heroin up to three times a day under a new scheme to licence the UK’s first “shooting galleries” where users can safely inject the drug.

A licence was approved by the UK government earlier this month for health centers in Cleveland that will be open seven days a week from Autumn, reports The Times. There, drug addicts can inject themselves up to three times per day while under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

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The scheme is being led by police and doctors who say the medicinal grade heroin will be a last ditch attempt to help wean “hardcore” addicts off the drug. The scheme will cost an estimated £12,000 ($15,000) per year for each addict, but will help “save lives, save money and reduce crime” according to Cleveland’s police and crime commissioner, Barry Coppinger.

The law still stands that anyone found in possession of heroin, without a licence, faces up to seven years imprisonment. The scheme has been implemented elsewhere, with approximately 90 of these facilities worldwide, in Europe, Canada, and Australia and the US not far behind.

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The facilities have been proven to reduce the transmission of HIV and overdose rates. However, critics express concern that the scheme actually entices addicts and make them further dependent on the class-A drug.

While supporters hope supervised injection facilities can follow the path set by the more widely accepted needle exchange programs, the first hurdle is legalising handling of the drug by certain people.

A concept not too popular with the US Justice Department and Attorney’s Office, who have previously made it clear that health workers at a supervised injection site would be vulnerable to criminal charges and the property could be at risk of being seized by federal law enforcement. Earlier this year the Department of Justice again made their stance clear by announcing that a US attorney filed a civil lawsuit against a nonprofit to block the creation of what would have been the US’ first so-called “consumption room”.

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