Young addicts in detention to get 'vital services'

Young people committing crimes to fund their drug habits are set to be the focus of a government drive to get them off drugs and stop their offending behaviour at an early age.

Arrest referral schemes, which target drug-using offenders in custody with advice on how to get treatment, are to be extended to under-18s in 10 pilot areas. The scheme is currently available nationally for drug-using offenders over the age of 18.

Visiting an arrest referral suite in Nottingham today, the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, said: "Early intervention is key if we are to crack the downward spiral of drugs and crime. The arrest referral scheme will intensify our efforts to prevent young people offending, in areas where drug-fuelled crime hits local communities hardest."

Home Office Drugs Minister, Caroline Flint, said that young people with drug problems "need services which are tailored to suit their needs" and to look at all the issues which may have contributed to their drug use.

The scheme will be piloted from December in Camden, Newham, Southwark, Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Bradford, Calderdale, Hull and Nottingham.

The government is investing £447 million over three years to fund the Criminal Justice Interventions Programme which identifies drug addicts who are committing crimes to fund their habits at every stage of the criminal justice system.


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