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Friday, 18 October, 2002, 07:30 GMT 08:30 UK
Mining towns hit hard by heroin
Heroin being prepared for injection
Heroin addiction can lead to a rise in crime
One in three households in a coalmining community in Nottinghamshire is affected by heroin, a report suggests.

An inquiry by Bassetlaw MP John Mann has found that Worksop has a drug problem similar to that of some inner cities.

However, his report shows that there is little support for addicts or relatives and concludes that treatment services are "a shambles".

Mr Mann has called on the government to examine the extent of the drug problem in other coalmining communities and to overhaul treatment programmes.

He also wants to see a change in the court system.

Public inquiry

The Labour backbencher launched his public inquiry in September after discovering there was no other research on the effects of drugs on mining towns.

"This problem has been known for a long time, ever since the pits have shut down people have been predicting this, but very little has been done," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"In this country at the moment we are spending 100m a year on treatment for drug addicts and spend 177m on defence barristers and solicitors defending people in courts because they are stealing to fund their addiction. That is clearly nonsense."

During three days of hearings, a panel heard testimony from drug addicts, their families and professionals working in the field.

Labour MP John Mann
Mr Mann chaired hearings in September
The so-called Worksop inquiry has concluded that as many as one third of all families in the area have been affected by heroin, either through an addiction in the home or as victims of drug-related burglary.

True scale

The report criticises waiting times for addicts seeking help, which in some cases can be as long as nine months.

Making 40 recommendations, the report calls on the government to establish the true scale of heroin abuse in coalfield communities.

It describes drug treatment services as patchy and ad hoc, and calls for a radical overhaul.

One of the recommendations is to introduce a separate court for dealing with drug addicts, citing 20m worth of property stolen each year in the area by addicts.

"They should have a choice, either go to jail or be treated," said Mr Mann.

"And what the addicts said to me is be tough on us. They say be tough on us because fining is a waste of time, if you fine us we will just have to steal more to fund the addiction," he added.

Mr Mann has pledged to send a copy of his report to Prime Minister Tony Blair.


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18 Oct 02 | England
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