Officers have provided life-saving treatment to more than 30 people since Durham Constabulary introduced the use of a drug which overcomes the effects of a drug overdoses.
Dozens of frontline police officers, together with officers working in custody suites, have been trained in administering Naloxone – a drug used to fight against overdoses caused by opiates such as methadone, heroin, and fentanyl.
The Naloxone kit was introduced to the force in 2019 and 34 people have been helped by the drug so far.
In the last 12months alone, ten people in custody have been helped by the drug, which is also used within the NHS, North East Ambulance Service and drug services.
Any potential administration of this drug by officers, does not replace the need for professional medical help, instead, it provides an opportunity to save a life if they find themselves at the scene of someone who has overdosed.
The Naloxone kits and training are funded and supported by Durham County Council, as part of their combatting drugs partnership and Darlington Borough Council.
The councils are working in partnership with the police to address the issues surrounding drugs and to support those in the community who need help.
Almost 200 further frontline officers from the force have recently been trained in the administration of Naloxone with the help of drug charities We Are With You and Humankind UK.
This group has also been trained in using an alternative nasal spray, which is seen as just as effective as the injection.
Each person will receive a personal kit, which they will carry around with them, ready for if they ever need it.
Chief Inspector Jason Meecham, of Durham Constabulary, said: “We have had Naloxone available to a number of our officers and in our custody suites for some time now and it has made a significant impact.
“We will never truly be able to determine if our actions have saved that person’s life but what we do know is that our actions have given 34 people a chance to live.
“Naloxone provides an almost instant reaction, temporarily counteracting the effects of an opiate overdose, although they do still need medical attention, it gives them a chance of survival they might not have had otherwise.
“Some of the people we deal with are the most vulnerable in our society and it might be that this provides the opportunity to hopefully get their lives back on track.
“Naxolone has made a significant positive impact since its introduction within Durham Constabulary, which is why we are taking steps to train more officers and staff in its use.”
Amanda Healy, Durham County Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “We work closely with partner agencies through the Combatting Drugs Partnership to try and reduce illegal drug use and deal with the harm it causes.
“This includes commissioning Humankind to provide free and confidential support to drug users and giving Durham Constabulary funding for naloxone and training police officers in its use.
“This training is delivered by Humankind and we are really pleased that our funding and this joined up working has helped people in genuine need.”