COPS GIVE NEEDLES TO DRUG ADDICTS
Nov 6 2003
Plan to cut disease
By Georgina Balston
POLICE are to hand out needles to arrested drug addicts to battle a spread
in deadly diseases. The addicts will have their needles taken from them
while they are in custody and replaced with a pack of sterile injecting
equipment. Grampian Police say the policy is needed to stop thespread of
infections carried in the blood, such as HIV and hepatitis C.
But the family of a woman stabbed in the head by an addict mugger last year
have criticised the move. Julie Fyvie, 24, has now recovered from the
shocking attack in Aberdeen last year. Her stepfather Michael Pirie, 37,
said: ``The police should be trying to stamp out drugs altogether. ``This
will just encourage users to take drugs.''
Force drug co-ordinator Inspector Les Johnston said the move was a
practical one. He said: ``The unfortunate reality is when we release
somebody from custody, they will be able to find drugs. ``If we get rid of
their injecting equipment, there's a possibility they will share needles.
``There is a high incidence of blood-borne viruses in the area and
injecting drug users are at particular risk.''
Mr Johnston said the packs issued would include details of drugs
rehabilitation services and needle exchange schemes.
Grampian will introduce the policy at all their main police stations in
Tory health spokesman and north-east MSP David Davidson used to run a
needle exchange at a pharmacy and welcomed the move.
He said: ``Exchange programmes cut disease and the cost to our health
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