Camden Council Needle Exchange Plans in Ruins

Backdated from previous BA website

Camden Council have officially withdrawn their planning application regarding the Tottenham Court Road needle exchange site today (14/02/2006), but we are neither celebrating, or will be complacent over this issue.

We are deeply suspicious about their intentions as past experience has shown that Camden Drugs Action Team are not beyond duplicity when it comes to acting on an agreed policy (West End Drugs Partnership) in relation to methods of needle exchange for injecting drug addicts.

In the DAT statement dated 14 Feb, they say: “The proposed centre aimed to break the cycle of drug addiction, reduce crime and prevent the spread of viruses such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C”. This is such a flippant and incredulous statement that it begs belief.  To consider that this proposal would have achieved the above aims shows a lack of vision and poor strategic management.

There are at least 500 problematic addicts living in hostels concentrated south of Euston Road.

This critical mass concentration is the crux of the problem as it can not do other than stimulate the illegal drugs market, street crime and ASB.

This is possibly the largest concentration of hostels in such a restricted area catering specifically for drug addicts in any part of London.

Before Camden Council even consider adding to treatment services surely it makes sense to ensure that this existing core group of clients are supplied with clean needles from the place they live in, i.e. their place of residence.

We agree with the WEDP consensus of the ‘mixed economy’ policy; however this must NOT be implemented in any way that entrenches or assumes that the West End drug market is a permanent fixture. Camden Council / DAT repeatedly remind us that they must provide services ‘where the market is’ – the problem as we see it is that they created the market in the first place.  Dispersal of the dynamics that stimulate the market is what is needed.

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