Main image of Bristol centre courtesy of Bristol City Council.
Bristol has been given £3.4 million to take part in a government pilot – which aims to reduce drug-use as well as drug-related crime and deaths across the city.
Project ADDER (Addiction, Diversion, Disruption, Enforcement and Recovery) is a new intensive approach to tackling drug use.
It brings together local councils, police and health services to combine targeted policing with enhanced treatment and recovery services.
The Home Office programme has already been piloted in five locations in England and Wales – and Bristol has been selected as one of six additional sites.
Bristol City Council will work with partners to use the two-year funding to provide those involved in drug-use with enhanced treatment and recovery programmes – plus additional employment and training opportunities.
Prison leavers and offenders with drug addictions will also be given support, along with families affected by drug-use, who are at risk of being involved with the criminal justice system.
The new Drug and Alcohol Strategy for Bristol 2021-2025 aims to prioritise prevention and support the development of a city where “everyone has the right to physical health and mental wellbeing, safe from the harms of alcohol and other drugs”.
Deputy Mayor with responsibility for Communities, Equalities and Public Health, Councillor Asher Craig, said: “…The impact of addiction goes beyond the users themselves and often extends to their families, loved ones, wider communities, services and businesses. Tackling this wider sphere of impact sits at the heart of our new drug and alcohol strategy which aims to improve the support for everyone.
“This funding will enable us to meet the actions set in the new strategy and comes at a vital time. The pressures of the pandemic continue to have a detrimental impact on people’s lives and in some cases have created an environment where we are seeing a rise in drug use.”
Services offering free treatment and recovery support include Bristol ROADS (Recovery Orientated Alcohol and Drugs Service), a partnership between Bristol Drugs Project, Developing Health and Independence and the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust – WHI
Consultant Addiction Psychiatrist at ROADS, Dr Ben Watson, said: “This funding is very welcome and will enable the partnership to offer additional therapeutic interventions and support that will help not only the individuals themselves, but also the people and communities surrounding them.”
Avon and Somerset Police has been allocated £1.5 million as part of Project ADDER – to protect people who are vulnerable to drug-related crime and develop law enforcement activity to disrupt drug supply in the city and reduce drug-related harm and offending.
Bristol Commander Superintendent Mark Runacres said: “For far too long, drug taking, dealing and the associated anti-social behaviour and crime has blighted the lives of too many people in Bristol.
“Whether it’s a parent walking their child to school passing used needles, a family living in a flat next door to persistent drug dealing, or a vulnerable person being exploited by ruthless drug dealers, we are all too with familiar with the harm and misery that drugs cause in our communities.”
He said Avon and Somerset Police would use “the local knowledge of neighbourhood policing teams” who understand their communities and the specific problems which needed to be addressed. Enforcement needed to be balanced “with diversion and education” to make lasting change.
“This is an opportunity to break the cycle of misery that all too often goes hand in hand with drugs misuse and dealing,” he added.