A WORKSOP homeless charity said the 2002 Heroin Inquiry missed a trick in tackling the problem – despite massively reducing crime and drug use in Bassetlaw.
HOPE for Homeless manager Sandy Smith said there was an immediate improvement with users being able to access methadone treatment through their GP.
But it also exposed a great need to provide more people with opportunities to move way from the environment pushing them towards drugs.
“They definitely missed a trick at the time. People got onto methadone but if they had been given jobs or something meaningful it would have been different,” she said.
“Crime went down because people weren’t committing crime to buy heroin but before they had a structure to their day.”
“Now they found themselves collecting their script first thing in the morning and then they had the whole day to get through.”
But Sandy said Mr Mann’s inquiry still made significant in-roads in tackling the heroin epidemic which had gripped Bassetlaw.
“I think the inquiry brought a lot of issues out into the open and held people to account. It would have been easier to just bury our heads in the sand but we didn’t, she said.
“There was an immediate improvement once the service came to Worksop – thanks to the work of Dr Lisa Collins.”
“People didn’t have to travel to Mansfield where there were massive waiting lists and they could get a methadone script within a week.”
HOPE support worker Claire Robinson said they are now having to deal with clients’ behaviour following an increased use of strong alcohol and drugs such as MCAT.
“Heroin can make people very down and quiet while alcohol can make them lose their inhibitions and be very loud and unmanageable,” she said.
“We have had staff attacked here and at one time we had to exclude five clients because of the impact of their behaviour.”
Sandy welcomed the new inquiry’s focus on alcohol and said the price and availability of cheap lager is contributing to the problem.
“We definitely want to reach out to street drinkers – there is a lot of anti-social behaviour related to alcohol which people are afraid of,” she said.
“We don’t like to exclude people because then they will be a victim of what we have done but we need to make them realise the impact of their actions on other people.”