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New partnership to bring extra help to vulnerable drug users
19/01/2017

​Vulnerable drug users will be given additional support to access treatment services thanks to a new partnership which will see mental health staff work alongside police to take help direct into people’s homes.

From Monday (23 January), nurses from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) and officers from Norfolk Constabulary will together visit the homes of drug users where there is a suspicion that out-of-county drug dealers have taken over the property.

Their aim will be to encourage the vulnerable users from across Norfolk to ask for help from treatment services, in turn reducing the risk that they will be exploited again in the future. At the same time, the police also hope to disrupt the activity of dealers, who use these properties as a base from which to sell drugs.

The partnership comes as part of Operation Gravity, which aims to crack down on drug-related crime and violence.

The team will refer drug users for treatment with Norfolk Recovery Partnership (NRP), which is a partnership between NSFT, The Matthew Project and the Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners Trust. It provides a range of advice and treatment for adults with drug and alcohol problems, including assessment, counselling, detoxification, medication and group support.

Terri Cooper-Barnes, Deputy Service Manager with NSFT who leads a team of four nurses based in the police control room, said: “By working proactively with the police, we hope to engage with this vulnerable group and encourage them into treatment.

“We want to identify these individuals early and do everything we can to help them access support, and feel that going to speak to them in their own homes is the best way of achieving this. At the same time, we will also be able to carry out a mental health assessments, as many of these people may have an existing condition as well as a drug dependency.

“We have worked very successfully with the police on a number of initiatives in the past, and hope that this partnership project will prove just a valuable and make a real difference to this vulnerable group.”

The new partnership will build on the role of the NSFT team which is based in the police control room, who currently provide expert advice in any situation where mental health is a factor. This makes sure that people get the right support when they present to the police in a crisis.

The NSFT team will also be trained to use Naloxine, which is a potentially life-saving antidote used to treat opiate overdoses.

T/Chief Superintendent Dave Marshall, County Policing Commander and Operation Gravity lead for Norfolk Police, welcomed the initiative saying: “We want our campaign to look at all aspects of drug dealing and working with Terri’s team means we can offer vulnerable members of our community help to make positive changes in their lives.

“Giving people who get caught up in this kind of activity options is an important part of our work. Only by taking away the drugs market can we stop drug dealers from focusing on the county.”

For more information on the services provided by NRP, visit www.norfolkrecoverypartnership.org.uk