Are people like The Loop the way forward in the war on drugs

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As mentioned in the previous article, the war on drugs has been being waged for nearly one hundred years, and the news media is still churning out disturbing story after story of drug crimes, gun and knife murders due to the drug gangs and their associates and misery encircling the globe for those addicted to these substances, which includes the families caught up in the whole drug culture, whether directly or as ‘collateral damage’ when a loved one dies from either from an overdose or by falling foul to their dealers or someone higher up the food chain.

I worked as a drug squad officer in the early 90s but in recent times the whole drugs culture and the violence and death surrounding it appears to have increased aggressively. A small ‘slight’ towards the ‘wrong’ face from a particular drugs gang in the United Kingdom at the moment, will most likely get you stabbed or shot and these gangs can get an ‘assassin’ from anywhere to do the job at a very cheap price. The movies might portray professional hitmen (and hitwomen; let us not be sexist) as being a ‘hit for hire’, paying thousands but, in reality, someone will happily do the job these days for a supply of drugs or for less than the price of a good meal at a restaurant. Even the gun is most likely loaned out for a price, just like renting a movie DVD; being returned to the hirer after the hit before the weapon resurfaces in another part of the country. It really is turning into a WAR.

Governments have to pull there heads out of the collective sand and deal with this problem in a different way as, up until now, the standard ways are failing and more people are dying than ever before. You will never eradicate illegal drug activity; sadly that is part of the fabric of world society today. However, out of despair, some countries have started to get creative and look at different ways to tackle the War on Drugs. In the United Kingdom in 2013 a new charity was set up, called THE LOOP (www.wearetheloop.com). In their ‘About Us’ page they quote,

“The Loop is a not for profit Community Interest Company established in 2013 which provides drug safety testing, welfare and harm reduction services at nightclubs, festivals and other leisure events. 

We also provide staff training on drugs awareness, in-house welfare service delivery, the prevention of drug related harm at events, and the delivery of ethical ‘front of house’ drug safety testing services.”

They further state:

“The Loop, a not for profit NGO, introduced forensic drug testing for public safety at nightclubs in autumn 2013 (at the Warehouse Project) and at festivals in summer 2014 (at Parklife). This testing has been characterized as ‘halfway house’ testing because it involves testing substances of concern obtained from on-site services including (primarily) police and security seizures on the door and inside the venue; amnesty bin contents; and also to a lesser extent substances given to the testers by medical, welfare and cleaning services on site. Results are disseminated to emergency services and staff on site and, where appropriate, to the wider public via on-site signage and social media. On site testing is carried out by a team of experienced volunteer chemists through The Loop and under the guidance of Fiona Measham, Director of The Loop and Professor of Criminology in the School of Applied Social Sciences at Durham University.”

(taken from the website of The Loop, http://www.wearetheloop.com)

The Loop, in 2016, approached various music festival organisers in the UK and Police Forces in those areas to put their ‘legal testing of illegal substances’ initiative forward to them. The Loop would set up a non judgmental drug testing facility on a music festival site and offer to test a small sliver of festival goers substances without fear of arrest, so that they could analyse it, determine the strength of the drug and identify the component parts. The festival goer would then return for the results and after a brief counseling session, could then make an informed choice as to whether they consume that drug or dispose of it.

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(Above is a generic picture of security searching festival goers’ bags at a Festival. This picture is NOT associated with The Loop charity)

The Loop are now regularly seen at UK festivals.

One of The Loop’s training offerings is a certificated one day course for those working or associated with the ‘Night Time Economy’, which include public houses, nightclubs, festivals and other licensed venues. Their website sets out the course content (below) and what can be achieved:

Responding to Drug Use in the Night Time Economy

Badge of Excellence Course

This one day training programme is aimed at people who work in bars, nightclubs and festivals who come into contact with people who use drugs recreationally. It will cover basic drug awareness including the risks of drug use, legal issues and identifying and responding to drug related issues in the Night Time Economy (NTE)

The course has been developed in conjunction with The Specialist Services Network Occupational Development and Training Team at Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust and has been awarded a Badge of Excellence by Open Awards in recognition of the high standard of course content and delivery methods.

Open-Awards-Badge-of-Excellence

The aim of the course is to support participants to ensure the safety of their customers attending their events in relation to drug related harm

The Learning Outcomes are for participants to be able to:

  • Understand what is meant by the term “recreational drug use” and why people use these drugs.
  • Understand the effects and risks of recreational drugs commonly used in NTE venues.
  • Examine the scope of current legislation relating to drugs commonly used in the NTE.
  • Identify drug related problems faced by staff organising and working in NTE venues.
  • Identify a range of appropriate harm reduction responses to drug related problems in the NTE.

Anyone who completes this one day course will receive a Badge of Excellence certificate of completion from Open Awards.

The Loop’s Trainers

The Loop’s trainers have a wide range of training experience. They hold relevant training qualifications and have front line understanding and experience in relation to drugs awareness and welfare provision.

For further information on any of the above courses, or to have a discussion on bespoke courses, prices and availability please contact us below.

(Taken from the website of The Loop, http://www.wearetheloop.com)

 

Jersey are delighted to announce that two trainers from The Loop (includes Head of Training Eddie Scoullar), are coming to take the above course, ‘Responding to Drug Use in the Night Time Economy’, on Friday 17th August. It is hoped to include interested parties from local government, security, police, youth service, health services etc.

If people In Jersey are interested in attending (cost £99 per head), please contact me as soon as possible at roisin.pitman@hotmail.co.uk

Course Details:

Friday 17th August 2018; at the Embassy Club, 28 Halkett Place, St. Helier. 9am start (prompt) until 4pm.   Cost: £99 per head. Only 20 places left.

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(A room at the Embassy Club Jersey, 28 Halkett Place, St. Helier)

 

 

 

 

 

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