City chiefs may ban methadone handouts in heart of Dundee

Methadone handouts could be banned from Dundee city centre.

City chiefs are set to meet health professionals and other agencies to decide whether chemists should be stopped from dispensing the heroin substitute in the main streets of Dundee.

On Tuesday, the Tele reported on the Dundee Business Improvement District’s (BID) proposals to tackle anti-social behaviour.

City Centre manager Sarah Craig said a lot of hard work is already being done to combat perceived drug abuse and anti-social behaviour.

A particular area of focus is the gathering of methadone patients who use three city centre pharmacists including Boots on Reform Street to collect their treatment.

Sarah said: “The majority of reported anti-social behaviour of late has been in the Reform Street area as highlighted in a recent report by a Police Scotland crime analyst.

“The report also highlights the large number of drug addicts collecting their methadone from other chemists in the heart of Dundee.

“I am keen to explore whether methadone needs to be dispensed here.

“We have three chemists in the centre that dispense methadone one chemist alone dispenses methadone to 90 patients every day.

“Some of these individuals then loiter in the vicinity where they engage in anti-social behaviour.”

Sarah added that she holds regular meetings with police in order to tackle this issue, and that according to data, Reform Street is the most affected area.

“I meet with Police Scotland on a weekly basis to discuss ongoing issues.

“This has resulted in several drug dealers being identified, caught and dealt with before the courts.”

Looking at best practices in cities with similar problems could hold the key to reducing perceived incidents of anti-social behaviour and drug abuse.

Sarah said: “Case studies in other cities such as Dublin suggest that methadone dispensing in the city centre has the unintended consequence of facilitating a wider drug market.

“They have since ‘de-clustered’ methadone dispensing in this area and are seeing positive results.

“I will be calling a meeting in the very near future with the relevant health professionals, agencies and businesses to discuss these issues and examine whether the Dublin scheme would work for Dundee.”

In the meantime, Sarah says the work of ambassadors is vital to ensuring the issue is monitored on a constant basis.

She said: “Ambassadors patrol the city centre every day engaging with retailers, businesses, and members of the public.

“They are instrumental in both preventing and detecting crime and anti-social behaviour.”

She added that they also provide advice to people begging on the streets.

Sarah stressed that begging is only being considered a crime if it is deemed aggressive by police. Providing help and pointing them in the direction of support agencies is an important part of an ambassador’s job.

“The team is also responsible for monitoring Big Issue sellers and any seller reported as being aggressive or selling from an unofficial pitch will be swiftly dealt with,” she said.