Southampton Drug Users Battle Addictions
Drug users in Southampton are receiving help through a police campaign to tackle drug-related crime in the city.
Operation Fortress was launched in May this year to reduce the harm caused by serious violence committed by drug dealers coming into the city.
Working with partner agencies, its aims are to restrict the supply of drugs, reduce the demand for them and rebuild communities part of which involves referring addicts identified through police operations to support services.
Operation Fortress lead Detective Superintendent Kath Barnes said: "Whatever the reasons people use illegal drugs, doing so puts them at greater risk of serious violent crimes from drug-dealers who come into Southampton to ply their trade.
"It's these violent crimes that are having an impact on the community as a whole so it's in everyone's interest that we help reduce the demand for drugs.
"We're well aware that some drug users will be on the fringes of criminality in their own right. But we've been careful in a number of appropriate cases to treat those individuals as victims of crime because they are being exploited, sometimes through their own vulnerabilities.
"They are not the people who are the targets of Operation Fortress: they are the people who are victims of those who pursue this criminal enterprise and it's very clear to us that in appropriate circumstances we will treat them as such."
Since the launch of the campaign, three people have been referred to drug treatment services in the city as a result of police enforcement action.
Councillor Richard Williams, Southampton City Council leader, said: "Southampton City Council is part of the Drug Action Team partnership which works hard in the community to help people live a drug free life. It plays a crucial role in finding ways to help addicts reduce their dependency on drugs. This is achieved by supporting drug users on their way to recovery by offering them accessible and effective services where they can get advice and treatment."
If you're concerned about a friend or loved-one who may be using drugs, or you're worried about your own drug use, help is at hand.
Contact The Bridge open access drug centre on 02380 881400.
The Parent Support Link on 02380 39 9764 offers support and advice to people affected by someone else's drug use.
There's more information on the webpage of Southampton City Council's Drug Action Team or you can Talk to Frank on 0800 77 66 00.