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Last Updated: Monday, 4 October, 2004, 13:58 GMT 14:58 UK
Help scheme for drug offenders
Cathy Jamieson, picture taken by Lenny Warren
Cathy Jamieson has pledged executive cash for the scheme
A pilot service has been launched to help people taken into police custody who misuse drugs and alcohol.

The intervention scheme is aimed at people who have been arrested and whose offences may be linked to either alcohol or drug misuse.

The first of its kind in the west of Scotland, the Arrest Referral Service will be based in the east end of Glasgow.

The initiative is being run by police, the council and the health board.

It was launched on Monday by Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson, who pledged 500,000 of Scottish Executive funding towards a two-year pilot.

'Smart options'

She said: "Arrest referral is an additional intervention opportunity, an opportunity to get offenders into treatment earlier and quicker and an opportunity to reduce their offending.

"Evidence shows that such early intervention is likely to reduce the possibility of reoffending and therefore the impact on local communities.

"And evidence shows that for every pound spent on treatment, we save 3 on the cost of enforcement further down the line. So these are smart options."

Everyone has a part to play in tackling the menace of drug and alcohol abuse
John McLean
Strathclyde Police

The scheme offers alcohol or drug misusers who have been arrested the chance to get help from treatment and other appropriate services. It will be offered to any prisoner who is taken into custody at Glasgow's east end station.

In a six month period, 6,000 prisoners were processed in the area's police office, with an estimated 40% said to have had had problems with alcohol. About 7% were said to have problems with drugs.

Assistant Chief Constable (Community Safety) John McLean, of Strathclyde Police, said the launch of the scheme was an important step forward in tackling issues which "blight our communities".

He added: "This is an excellent example of partnership working. Everyone has a part to play in tackling the menace of drug and alcohol abuse."

Councillor John Mackenzie, convener of Glasgow City Council's social care services committee, also welcomed the pilot project.

He said: "The scheme offers a critical first step for individuals to begin to tackle their problems with drugs and to take up opportunities for rehabilitation that we have put in place over the last two years."

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