Police in custody suites in County Durham and Darlington will be able to administer naloxone to people who are experiencing an opiate overdose from later this year under new plans.
Naloxone is the emergency antidote for overdoses caused by heroin and other opiates such as methadone, morphine and fentanyl. Currently, people employed or engaged in the provision of drug treatment services can, as part of their role, supply naloxone as long as it is supplied for the purpose of being available to save life in emergencies.
If the plan goes ahead, Durham will be one of the first police forces in the country to introduce it into custody suites. Officers are being trained to enable its introduction later this year, and the guidelines for when naloxone should be used are currently being finalised.
Commenting on the initiative, Inspector Jason Meecham who runs the custody suites said “Many of the individuals who we care for in custody throughout County Durham and Darlington, unfortunately, suffer from problematic drug issues. These frequently relate to opiate use, which on occasion results in our NHS colleagues using Naloxone when detainees experience an overdose.
“The new training would enable our custody officers to inject naloxone in emergencies when someone who has taken an overdose of opiates is in custody and their life is at risk. They would still need specialist medical aftercare, but it would provide an additional opportunity to save someone’s life”
Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner Ron Hogg said: “Drug users should be able to seek medical treatment without fear of being criminalised. I have called on the Government to review the current UK drug policy, as it urgently needs to do more to save lives and reduce drug related-harm.
“The plans to introduce naloxone in Durham are part of the sensible, radical approach which we are taking to reduce harm and save the lives of drug users”.