South Wales Police is taking part in a pilot which will see officers in Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot carrying nasal Naloxone (Nyxoid).
Naloxone is an emergency antidote for overdoses caused by heroin and other opiate or opioid substances such as methadone, morphine and fentanyl. It works by reversing the breathing difficulties that can be brought on by an overdose of these substances, to buy time for an ambulance to arrive.
The number of people who have died in Wales due to drug misuse has increased by 84% over the last ten years, going from 39.2 per million in 2008, to 72.0 per million in 2018.
These figures, released by the Office for National Statistics, show that Swansea and Neath Port Talbot had the second highest rates for deaths related to drug misuse in England and Wales in 2018.
If a police officer does successfully administer the drug, then the receiver will be referred to a Harm Reduction database, to ensure that they receive the appropriate safeguarding and outreach.
South Wales Police now has over 50 police officers who have volunteered to carry nasal Naloxone during their tour of duty.
Detective Superintendent Gareth Morgan said:
“Whilst the primary role of the police regarding drug use and supply is traditionally one of enforcement, we do work closely with partners to reduce the demand for controlled drugs and to prevent people from taking such harmful substances in the first place.
“By carrying nasal Naloxone, officers will have access to a crucial harm reduction tool that can prevent drug related deaths and the knock-on effects that this has to families and communities.
“If we can save the life of one person, it will allow us to refer them to our partners for treatment and intervention, giving them the chance to rebuild their lives.”
Matthew Rafferty, Harm Reduction Lead for Western Bay Area Planning Board said:
“I am very pleased to see police officers having the ability to carry and administer Naloxone. This will save lives and help reduce extremely high drug related mortalities we see in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot. When officers administer Naloxone, not only will it save lives, but it will buy valuable time to allow treatment services to engage with the individual and provide the follow-on care.
“Western Bay Area Planning Board shares its gratitude to South Wales Police. This is a truly monumental step in reducing drug related deaths that impact the people and the communities of Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.”