Neighbourhood Beat

A monthly column to keep you in touch with policing matters Turning point for drug crime DRUG takers who have turned to crime are being given an opportunity to change their ways. The Cambridgeshire Drug Interventions Programme bridges the gap between

A monthly column to keep you in touch with policing matters

Turning point for drug crime

DRUG takers who have turned to crime are being given an opportunity to change their ways.

The Cambridgeshire Drug Interventions Programme bridges the gap between treatment and criminal justice by providing a team of professionals from police, health service, probation and county council operating within one team.

CDIP covers the southern policing division incorporating Cambridge City, South Cambridgeshire and East Cambridgeshire local authority areas and focuses on working with individuals using class A drugs with the greatest link to criminal offending - in particular heroin and crack cocaine.

It has been estimated that there are 100,000 problematic drug misusers in the UK - misusers who see criminal offending as the norm to feed habits of hundreds of pounds per week.

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Whilst exact numbers are unknown, in an early study of 20 problematic misusers in the Cambridge area, respondents were spending on average £400 per week and in every case state benefits where their only means of income.

Daily offending was the only source of satisfying such extensive habits.

The CDIP objective is to get these drug misusers into and retained in treatment in its wider context and away from offending.

The CDIP approach is a holistic one offering a broad range of technical expertise and experience within the team to match the breadth of issues affecting such misusers.

Currently managing 70 clients, 19 of those in the East Cambs area, CDIP operations manager Inspector Steve Kerridge has a strong belief that the true multi-agency approach of the team is pivotal to success.

"We recognise that no stand-alone agency has the time, resources or expertise to address the wide range of issues that clients of this type present," he said.

"For many drug-misusers, medical interventions alone will be enough to allow them to lead relatively normal lives. CDIP is concentrating on the chaotic minority, users who have alienated themselves from mainstream health providers, can present dangers to themselves or others and who have lost the motivation to help themselves.

"Only with the sharing of and appropriate management of all of this information can we begin to introduce plans of care taking away the excuse to use and offend.

"Health staff cannot expect to plan and develop packages for clients whose motivation to engage is minimal; clients whose fear of arrest and ingrained distrust of any public authority leaves them constantly looking over their shoulder.

"Similarly, how can the probation service hope to support and rehabilitate offenders with drug misuse problems without having a firm grasp of what those problems are?"

CDIP are also working on a range of interventions, including securing accommodation, access to training and employment and looking to build relationship between clients and families.

East Cambridgeshire clients are assigned a personal key worker who carries out home visits.

There has been an 80 per cent reduction in arrests of clients at six months of engagement and it cannot be forgotten that this is amongst a client group with a combined history of more than 6,000 criminal convictions.

Based on client interviews and work with the Cambridge University Institute of Criminology, it has been estimated that in the region of up to 900 crimes may have been saved across the policing division through these diverse interventions.

Seventy per cent of clients are staying in treatment for 12 weeks or more which is nationally recognised as the timescale for an effective treatment episode. This far exceeds national levels.

INFO: If you are worried that you or someone you know is involved in crime to fund a class A drug habit and need help of for more information contact the CDIP Team on 0800 731 3520.

# VERY few people's lives these days have remained untouched by drug misuse, either directly by association with, or victims of, drug users.

Most people know of drug abusers or have seen evidence of their activities. Many local victims of crime have been the result of drug users who have stolen items to fund their drug habit. Often drug users resort to supplying others to fund their own habit.

East Cambridgeshire has its fair share of drug issues, as do all areas, but is by no means a major problem area within the force.

We on the neighbourhood policing team are very active in the prevention and detection of drug offences within our area. As a neighbourhood team we have carried out several closures of houses being used by or associated with the supply of drugs and on a regular basis execute drugs warrants, based on intelligence led information, at locations believed involved in both the use or supply or drugs.

Information supplied to us is always treated in the strictest confidence and is the vital keystone to dealing with drug related issues. Help us to tackle drug issues in your neighbourhood by reporting all activities and your suspicions. Together we can make a difference.

Sergeant Alan Savill, North Neighbourhood. Tel: 01353 656640/08454 564564 ext 6640 email:

Cannabis is not legal

THE most common drug that my team find in people's possession is cannabis which comes in two forms, either as crushed green leaves, sometimes known as "skunk", or as resin, which is often a black or brown coloured substance that resembles liquorice.

Since cannabis was re-classified by the Government to Class C, many people believe that it has been legalised. This is not the case and cannabis is still illegal. Anybody who has some risks being prosecuted.

Increasingly teenagers are using cannabis as a recreational drug, perceiving it to be harmless and non-addictive. My experience of drug users is that this is not the case. Many heroin or crack cocaine addicts began their addictions smoking cannabis. My advice is don't start.

Too often drug addicts find themselves caught up in a miserable existence that is funded by stealing and suffering health problems, both physical and mental. This is a well documented and recognised phenomenon associated with substance abuse.

If you have any concerns about friends, family or your children being involved in drugs please call me at Ely Police Station on 08454 564 564 or e-mail me via the E-cops system and I will gladly talk to you in confidence about your concerns.

My team is currently targeting the following issues in your neighbourhood: anti social behaviour (ASB) and criminal damage by teenagers at The Weatheralls, Soham; teenagers involved in ASB in Bottisham on Monday evenings; ASB and damage being caused by youths / teenagers in Burwell on youth club nights and ASB, under-age drinking and speeding vehicles in Soham, High Street during the evenings.

Sergeant Nigel Leadbeater

Southern Neighbourhood Beat

Tel: 08454 564 564 ext 6640.