Swanswell to deliver new service to break the cycle of substance misuse and crime

27 February 2014

Reducing re-offending and breaking the cycle of addiction and crime is the aim of a new service appointed and funded by Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens.

From April, Avon and Somerset will have the first single cross border arrest referral service in the country for drug and alcohol addicts.

The aim of the new single service is to have more drug and alcohol related offenders in treatment to reduce re-offending.

Sue Mountstevens said: 'This service will help people turn their back on an addiction which can often lead to a vicious cycle of crime and sometimes prison.

'By developing a service straight from arrest, where people who need support will be provided with an opportunity to seek treatment, we can hopefully break the cycle of alcohol and drug related criminal activity.

'With three new custody facilities opening this summer we had the unique opportunity to review the current drug and alcohol arrest referral service and a lot of hard-work has gone in to developing and strengthening it.

'This has been a real collaborative effort to make sure we have a better service across Avon and Somerset and I would particularly like to thank South Gloucestershire and Bristol City Council, the police and the Drug Action Teams for their hard work.'

The new single drug and alcohol arrest referral service will save £300,000 compared to the previous service which included five individual contracts across Avon and Somerset. It will also result in a better more consistent service for the whole police force area and more offenders being referred into treatment.

Paul Bunt, Avon and Somerset Police Drugs Strategy Manager, said: 'Over the last 10 years in partnership with local Drug Action Teams we have worked effectively with offenders on their substance misuse problems which have resulted in less crime and less harm to our communities.

'This initiative will enable that partnership to engage even more offenders and will target not only those causing the most harm to our communities, but also those offenders in the early stages of drug related criminal behaviour so we can break the cycle of drugs, alcohol and crime at the earliest opportunity.'

The new provider Swanswell, a national alcohol and drug recovery charity, will start work in April.

David Lewis, Swanswell's Director of West Region, said: 'We’re delighted to have been selected to provide the new arrest intervention referral service in Avon and Somerset.

'We’re looking forward to developing the service with our partners in the police, community and prison service to help people to change their lives for the better.

'The aims and objectives of our service fit with the Police and Crime Commissioner priorities to make Avon and Somerset residents both feel safe and be safe in their community and we’re excited to be in a position to help make this a reality.'

Sue Mountstevens added: 'I am pleased that we have found a provider in the charity Swanswell that understands our aims and is committed to increasing the number of offenders seeking treatment.' 

Posted on behalf of the Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner

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