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Heroin

Volume 458: debated on Monday 12 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the possible effects of the prescription of heroin to long-term addicts on the NHS on the levels of crime. (126601)

It is not possible currently to estimate the likely effect on crime of heroin prescription to long- term addicts. The current evidence base indicates that heroin prescribing is only suitable in a small number of cases. In the vast majority of cases, it is not a safer or a more effective option than methadone prescribing.

The National Treatment Outcome Research Study (NTORS), the most important UK research on drug treatment, showed that for every £1 spent on treatment, at least £9.50 is saved, mainly in the costs of reduced crime. Thus there are clear economic benefits to treating drug misusers. However, this study provided no information of the relative impact of different types of treatment.

Research is under way to build our knowledge in this area. The Home Office has commissioned the Drug Treatment Outcomes Research Study (DTORS) which will evaluate the impact of current drug treatment services on drug and alcohol use, offending, and health and social outcomes. Additionally, Government-funded projects to enhance the evidence base for the clinical use of heroin in drug treatment are currently under way.