Tackling Substance Misuse
The Strategic Manager (Community Safety) presented to the Committee a report outlining the links between substance misuse (alcohol and drugs) and violence including domestic abuse as well as the statistics in Gravesham compared to other districts.
The Strategic Manager (Community Safety) explained to the Committee that drug/alcohol related crime is important as it can involve domestic abuse and other crimes like shoplifting, robberies and other acquisitive crimes are often committed to finance drug habits.
The Strategic Manager (Community Safety) highlighted the following points to the Committee:
· The rate of drug related offences per 1000 is lower than the than the county average
· The Community Safety PARTNERSHIP COMPARES the statistics to other ‘similar groups’ e.g. Thurrock which have similar demographics to Gravesham and Dartford and Gravesham also have a lower than average rate of drug offences compared to these areas
· On Page 10 of the agenda it shows the local alcohol profiles of districts and their crime related to alcohol which as shown is a much bigger problem in Gravesham than other districts
· Page 12 shows details of hospital admissions for psychoactive substance and alcohol use but this does not include A&E attendances
· The age range with the highest figure of hospital admissions related to the use of psychoactive substances is 45-64 years old whereas for alcohol-related admissions it is 25-44 years old
· It tends to be town centre wards and deprived areas of the borough where drug-related activity is most prevalent
· The organisation for youths dealing with addiction called ‘Addaction’ has shown on page 13 that the number of young people starting new treatment has reduced however it is still a higher figure than seen in Dartford
· There are still concerns with legal highs – sightings of discarded canisters suggest that they are being increasingly used but the nature and extent of this problem is currently unknown.
The Locality Manager CRI (West Kent Recovery Service) introduced himself to the Committee and outlined the following points about his work to the Committee:
· The MEAM (making Every Adult Matter) project group is an off-shoot of the CSP Drug and Alcohol Action Group. MEAM spans many different teams ranging from alcohol treatment to mental health services all of which work together to identify the specific needs of complex drug and alcohol misuse clients
· The MEAM Board meets on a quarterly basis, is co-chaired by The Locality Manager and Inspector Chris Carter (Kent Police) and an Operational Group meets more frequently to deliver tailored support to identified clients
· A £1000 grant of emergency funds was given to the service by GBC’s CSU
· The biggest users of legal highs found are older people who have had previous addiction issues with opiates or alcohol; the service can offer medical treatments for opiate users but unfortunately there is none for legal highs – it works on the basis of what the legal drug they were using most resembles to a controlled substance and treat for that
· Page 14 details a case study of a woman who the MEAM process helped bringing her onto a treatment and recovery programme and by acquiring housing for her outside of the Borough (ensuring that contact with past associates was minimised). Previously this client had been placing considerable demands on a range of agencies; once on the MEAM process her contact with the Police had fallen significantly and to date improvements are being sustained.
A Member commented on the impressiveness of the multi-agency group but wanted clarification on whether or nor other organisations were involved like Porchlight or more specifically with the prison system like Rapt and Sanctuary.
The Locality Manager CRI (West Kent Recovery Service) clarified that the service actually hosts clinical surgeries for Porchlight and Sanctuary as well as working alongside those on parole to try and help them fit back into society. The GBC work closely with G-Safe and Kent Police to Strategic Manager (Community Safety) advised that Porchlight and City Praise through a Sanctuary Project can actually refer cases to GBC through the MEAM process.
Following several more questions from Members the Locality Manager CRI (West Kent Recovery Service) and the Strategic Manager (Community Safety) explained that:
· The people being admitted to hospitals statistics and the amount of reported offences are so vastly different because of cases that come to the attention of the police; the primary focus is dealers and tackling supply. Some possession is actually confiscated rather than reported as the amount of drugs found could be exceedingly small
· It is not actually an offence to be intoxicated on the drugs themselves
· A lot of the drug stock is coming from places like Abbey Wood and Thanet; dealers are actually travelling to Gravesend due to its prime location
· The statistics for hospital admission due to controlled substances is also included in the agenda
· Through the MEAM process there is still always a lead agency on each case which would deal with coordinating most of the work; this process increased communication between the agencies and stop fighting between groups for cases benefitting the victims/patients
· The graph on Page 10 is not broken down into days of crime but the results were that there were much higher figures of offences on Friday and Saturday nights
· In the next report the measurement of resources will be included and where they should be distributed especially on big occasions such as Christmas time
· The IOM group help persistent offenders and administer drug tests weekly to try and maintain a user being clean
The Operational Manager (Community Safety) advised the Committee on the various enforcement powers the Police have and what has been carried out in the Borough:
- GBC work closely with G-Safe and Kent Police to try and carry out the enforcement powers in the Borough effectively
- New dispersals powers have been acquire which makes it easier to move people on form designated areas within 24 hours
- There have been approximately six dispersal areas in the Town Centre
- Police and PCSO’s frequently confiscate and empty alcohol from groups of people in the Alcohol Control Zones; one man had alcohol confiscated 28 time in one day and was given a Criminal Behaviour Order totalling 160 days in prison with conditions that included engaging with CRI on release
- New legislation has been introduced (The Psychoactive Substances Act 2016) giving police greater powers to tackle the trade in psychoactive substances. It is due to come into force on 6 April 2016
- Some changes have been made to the area to design out crime. Kent Police carried out raids at places like the Canal Basin where thousands of cannabis plants were seized
- A vehicle was stopped and searched and had large amount of heroin seized leading to an arrest (details, if available, to be sent to Cllr Langdale on whether or not the car was tracked into the Borough or it was random)
The Operational Manager (Community Safety) informed Members that the G-Safe scheme deals with a lot of offenders and share intelligence with the CRI to try and prevent people from using psychoactive and controlled substances. G-Safe has also been able to ban people who have shoplifted from shopping areas which mean they cannot finance their addiction as easily.
The Locality Manager informed that Kent Police and CRI had raided many shops in Gravesend such as Skunkworks and confiscated legal highs such.
The Operational Manager (Community Safety) assured the Committee that lots of work is being undertaken with young people at schools by other agencies to make
them aware of the dangers of these drugs.
Members noted the content of the report.