Heroin Assisted Treatment (HAT): Saving lives, improving health, reducing crime

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“The Modern Crime Prevention Strategy...highlighted the value of supervised injectable diamorphine/heroin in reducing crime... Police and Crime Commissioners and police forces wishing to explore issues relating to heroin assisted treatment are encouraged to engage with the relevant local authorities which commission drug and alcohol treatment in their areas.”  - Brandon Lewis, Home Office Minister, Answer to Parliamentary Question, 2016
 
Prescribing heroin for some dependent users, usually for use in clinics under medical supervision, is called heroin assisted treatment (HAT). The practice is well established, already legal under UK (and international) law, and has a long history, including in the UK, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands and Canada.
 
It has successfully reduced fatal overdoses and needle sharing that can lead to infections, including HIV and hepatitis; high risk street injecting; fundraising driven acquisitive crime and street sex-work; and discarded needles, while increasing take-up and retention in treatment. Both the UK government and its official advisers - the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) - actively support HAT. The ACMD from a  health perspective, the UK Home Office from a crime reduction viewpoint as well.
 
“Central government funding should be provided to support HAT for patients for whom other forms of Opioid Substitution Treatment have not been effective.” 
- Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, 2016