“Legalise heroin” argues expert

Professor Martin Schechter

Professor Martin Schechter

Prescribing heroin to addicts could be cheaper than methadone, an expert on addiction has suggested.
Professor Martin Schechter, who has long campaigned on the issue, said the drug substitute did not always prove to be effective while heroin treatments have been shown to get people clean as well as reduce harm, lower societal cost and make savings for the healthcare system.
Writing in the BMJ, he said: “Illicit heroin is a dangerous street drug that leads to substantial morbidity and mortality. Because its dose and purity are unknown, users will face the risk of overdose and death.”
Addicts will be in and out of hospitals, court rooms and prisons and “cost society a fortune while suffering immeasurably because they have an illness that society does not like”.
Prof Schechter, of the School of Population and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine at University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, said that while the direct cost of heroin assisted treatment is four times that of traditional treatments, it still works out to be cheaper when accounting for all associated costs compared to other interventions.
He cited six randomised controlled trials that found heroin assisted treatment to be more effective than standard treatments for patients, including one in the Netherlands which estimated that heroin-assisted therapy led to overall savings of about £9,530 per patient a year when compared with methadone, while British researchers found it was more cost-effective than methadone.
“The argument that therapeutic heroin is too expensive is false,” he said.
“Treatments like this represent the holy grail of medical research seeking to support a sustainable healthcare system: they achieve better outcomes at lower overall cost. Those savings could be redirected towards addiction prevention programmes and other priorities.”
He said conventional therapies such as methadone should remain the preferred treatment for patients with heroin addiction, but heroin-assisted therapy should be offered to those who have not benefited from them.

Revenge porn law comes into force today

People who share sexually explicit images without consent could be jailed for up to two years from today, as new revenge porn laws come into force. Campaigners and victims have welcomed the move, which means those who post private, sexual images of someone without consent and with the intent to cause distress will now faceContinue Reading

May denies prison radicalisation is caused by staff shortages

Home Secretary Theresa May has rejected claims that staff shortages are hindering efforts to prevent Islamic radicalisation in prisons – and has been supported in doing so by prison experts. The former head of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office has warned that stretched resources are making it increasingly difficult to find the needle inContinue Reading

Wrongly convicted man hits back

A man freed after nearly 30 years on death row in the US said the people who played a part in his conviction will have to “answer to God”. Ray Hinton was released from Alabama state custody yesterday after prosecutors abandoned an effort to bring him to trial a second time. Mr Hinton was convictedContinue Reading

Sex on duty cop jailed

A police officer has been jailed for three years and nine months for having sexual relationships with three women while on duty. Pc Darren Heath, 45, who is suspended from all duties at Gloucestershire Police, pleaded guilty to five counts of misconduct in a public office. Bristol Crown Court heard Heath bedded one woman justContinue Reading

Police officer in court charged with wife murder

A police constable has appeared in court accused of the murder of his wife. Pc Otis Goldsmith, 49, is charged with killing his wife Jill within police grounds. Goldsmith, who has 28 years’ service with Northamptonshire Police, was arrested after police were called to a house in Wootton Hall Park, Northampton, on Thursday. He appearedContinue Reading

Sex pest cop told he faces jail

A police officer has been told to expect a prison sentence after admitting sexual relationships with three women he met while on duty. Pc Darren Heath, 45, who is suspended from all duties at Gloucestershire Police, pleaded guilty to five counts of misconduct in a public office. Bristol Crown Court heard he bedded one womanContinue Reading

Sex on duty Cop on trial

A policeman from Newcastle-under-Lyme engaged in sexual activity with four different women while on duty and “groomed” a domestic violence victim for sex at a hotel, a court has heard. A jury was told that Pc Adam Rushton even used the “subterfuge” of a fictional crime to trick a woman who had reported a domesticContinue Reading

Met Cop disciplined over Facebook joke about Rolf Harris

A police officer has been disciplined after he posted a “joke” on Facebook about sexual assaults by Rolf Harris. The Metropolitan Police constable was handed a final written warning about his internet activity by bosses last year. A Freedom of Information response from the force said the officer “posted a joke about sexual assaults onContinue Reading

Our powder-keg prisons: Strangeways – the lesson we failed to heed

Conditions in prisons are as bad now as they were at the time of one of Britain’s worst jail riots, a former lord chief justice has warned – and with one former prison rioter saying our ‘powder-keg prisons’ now risks Strangeways becoming the lesson we have “foolishly failed to heed” The system is in crisisContinue Reading

css.php