Kettering project to tackle drug addiction sees dozens of vulnerable people helped

Police say it is making real progress

Monday, 5th July 2021, 12:45 pm
Updated Monday, 5th July 2021, 12:46 pm
Drugs file pic

A project to help and support Kettering's most vulnerable people with drug addictions has seen dozens of people receive bespoke intervention.

The Citadel pilot project, which launched last year, supports people with tailored programmes to lift them out of addiction by using a holistic approach. Police say there are far-reaching benefits for the whole community, including reductions in crime, anti-social behaviour and harm to both the environment and the local economy.

So far, 44 adults are receiving bespoke intervention after being identified as vulnerable. Work is ongoing to identify others who would benefit from similar support.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Of the 44 adults currently engaged with the project, five have responded so well that the risks to them and others have been reduced. This means the support they’ve been receiving can be scaled down - with the proviso there is always an open door for them should they need it.

Another five will now be part of a longer and more intensive programme throughout the Citadel partnerships.

Detective Chief Inspector Gan Thayanithy, the local policing lead for the north of the county, added: “What is important is we view addiction as a health issue and approach it as such. Root causes to addiction vary from person to person. However, it is recognised that mental health, crisis, homelessness and unemployment are a significant contributory factor but they are not exclusive.

“In 2019, Dame Carol Black launched a review into the drug situation in the UK. It is well-recognised there needs to be a shared and proactive approach to help those who are addicted to drugs and that the approach needs to be a health approach rather than a criminal justice one.

“What #Citadel is looking to do is approach the issue in exactly that way. We are using existing providers, who have staff with lived experience, but we are building a specialist support network that gives more options to aid treatment and recovery.”

Earlier this year members of the public were asked to comment on the project and give feedback about what they felt were the key issues the town faced in relation to drug addiction. Police say that of 210 people surveyed, nearly half cited drug-related crime as the biggest cause of harm to the Kettering community.

Lack of treatment options was identified as the biggest barrier to treatment and is something the project is focusing on - expanding the range of providers to ensure an holistic, person-centred and proactive approach to support those affected. This means continuing to build partnerships with a wide range of organisations, to ensure wrap-around, bespoke support to help each person break the cycle of addiction.

Fear of being targeted by authorities, being prosecuted and social stigma was another key factor those surveyed felt prevented people seeking help. Police say the Citadel project uses a non-judgemental, therapeutic approach and stresses people will never be targeted because of an addiction. It uses diversionary tactics to prevent issues escalating to that stage, particularly when it comes to younger people where youth workers are brought in to support children who may be at risk.

Police also say Citadel helps people who are already involved in the criminal justice system by engaging with them and giving them hope by providing help with addiction, finding accommodation, training and various tactics to improve their employability.

People felt unemployment and homelessness are the key drivers for drug addiction.

Detective Inspector Seb Greshner, who leads the project said he recognised this requires a multifaceted response and that the approach will not always be straight forward and will most often require perseverance.

He said: “Drug addiction is a complex issue with many, differing root causes and some of the support available through Citadel includes helping with safe accommodation, training opportunities, employment opportunities, therapeutic opportunities, family crisis work and more.

“This project is different because it deals with drugs issues in a unique way. It makes no sense to criminalise people who are having issues as this will only impact adversely on, for example employability. It would also most likely exacerbate mental health issues. This is likely to plunge individuals even further into crisis and make them further reliable on drugs.

“If somebody is found in simple possession of drugs, we would look at alternative ways of dealing with the matter, such as putting the person concerned on a drugs awareness session.

“Another feature of Citadel is that, traditionally we have waited for people who need help to make the first approach. Citadel is now identifying those in need and approaching them instead, to offer support and therapy.

“We will however need to act when this begins to turn to criminality, say if that individual is committing other offences like robbery or burglary.”

Partners involved in the Citadel project include Substance to Solutions, the Office of Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner’s Youth services, Bridge, North Northants Community Safety Partnerships, MY:BK:YD, Prospects and Goodwill solutions. Over the coming weeks, more partners will join the project, providing even wider and more bespoke support for those who need it.

Anybody with information about people with drugs-related vulnerabilities should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.