I want to use this article to focus on one of my flagship manifesto commitments, that of setting up a detox centre for under 21s addicted to drugs and / or alcohol. This is something I want to set up here, in our area, for people to detoxify from drugs and alcohol, in either Devon or Cornwall or the Isles of Scilly.
The Isles of Scilly is tempting, on one of those quiet off islands. That would give people something to talk about. I remember a recent article in which a Deputy Police Boss was quoted as saying the Scillies might be neglected after the election because there weren’t many voters. Don’t you believe it.
However, I have been thinking of other possible locations. What about Old Bodmin Hospital for instance? Such a beautiful building and a squandered resource. But no. It’s too close to town.
The answer is a farm. We already have an excellent farm rehab centre in Cornwall at Bosence in my end of the County. That’s precisely the kind of location we need. Somewhere remote and inspiring. Somewhere gloriously beautiful. Bodmin Moor for instance. Or maybe we could buy up some Forestry Commission land.
Why are we going to do this? Because there is nowhere. You heard me. NOWHERE. Nowhere in Britain. Nowhere anywhere in these British Isles that is a dedicated detox centre for under 21s addicted to drugs and alcohol.
Now I realise that in many instances home detox is better for children and under 21s addicted to alcohol. We will increase provision of community detox nurses one way or another. But that does not work in every case. At the risk of promoting a stereotype, many recidivist young offenders with addiction problems come from families in which an adult male, perhaps a step-father, beats up the wife or kids. In instances such as this home detox is not the answer.
Why am I, putative Police and Crime Commissioner, committing to this project? Because I am here to deal with the causes of crime. This should be delivered by the Health Authority but if they fail in their duty it must still be provided.
To be honest, I would hope this is a task we can share, with the Health Authority, the Local Authority, and the Police Force all carrying some of the burden together. And this is my objective.
In any case I envision the Police Force purchasing the premises and beefing them up. This at least will cost the people of Devon and Cornwall nothing. We will sell off redundant Police Premises (part of Police land at Middlemoor is already slated for sale for supermarket development) and purchase and build accordingly. The Police Property portfolio will thus remain much the same in value – it is just a redistribution of assets.
As regards the way this will be run – well I am struck with the idea of the Police Force taking a lead role. Of course, we will have the place run by detox nurses, and they will be advised by a treatment committee that will recommend procedures according to state-of-the art practice.
However, why not have the whole place run as a sort of outward bound unit of the Police Cadets? Is that so impractical? A Health Authority lead on treatment is of course preferred. But no one will hold us over a barrel on this. If necessary this project will go forward as an independent police funded third sector charity. But it will happen if I am elected. And it will be outstanding. This is a commitment and one from which I will not be diverted.
Why is this so important? I have worked for years on promoting Peace in the Middle East. There is a difference between peace and concord. You can have concord between thieves and murderers, a state of truce if you like. But peace is something deeper. Peace means spreading a little sunshine around. Peace means living together without hatred or fear. And the young people of Devon and Cornwall need peace in their hearts just as do the rest of us. They too are vulnerable. More so. That youngsters should have lost their way on drugs and alcohol, because we, society, have let them down, is a tragedy. We cannot stand idly by and permit this to continue. Having a state of the art detox facility is not the whole answer. But it is an important element in the mix. I will deliver it.
A dear friend of mine had a daughter, Rosie, the sweetest child, who died of alleged substance abuse in Somerset the day before yesterday. How many of you know people, young people, who have addiction problems? I will do something about it. If there is one pledge, above all others, that I will sweat blood to deliver, it is this one.