An innovative Government project set up to break the cycle of drug addiction and crime is ridding the town of the scourge of narcotic abuse and creating safer streets and neighbourhoods in Blackpool.
One year after its launch with almost £5 million of Home Office funding, Project ADDER (Addiction, Diversion, Disruption, Enforcement and Recovery) has led to over 200 arrests for drug possession and trafficking offences, helping to break up the drugs gangs driving crime and exploiting vulnerable people in the area.
Over the same period, Lancashire Police has supported over 600 people into treatment for substance misuse using a range of powers available to them, such as Out of Court Disposal Orders. This gives those suffering from drug addiction the chance begin to recover, rebuild their lives and be supported into housing, employment and a more hopeful future.
The Blackpool ADDER project was one of the original set up in January 2021 as part of a Government drive to end the misery of drug misuse which blights so many communities, level up communities and make the streets safer.
Policing and Crime Minister, Kit Malthouse, said:
“The Illegal drugs trade is vicious. These gangs destroy without thought or care. They bring crime and violence into our neighbourhoods and cost society billions.”
“We cannot stand idly by while vulnerable people are enslaved to narcotics as their loved ones watch in despair.”
“Through Project Adder we are helping people in Blackpool caught in the helotry of addition build a new brighter future, ridding the town of drug malefactors and making communities and the whole town safer for the future.”
Detective Chief Superintendent, Sue Clarke, Head of Lancashire Violence Reduction Network said:
“It has been a privilege to work on Project ADDER. As we reflect on the work done and the achievements of the team over the last twelve months we can see how this holistic approach has changed way agencies work together for the benefit of those in addiction.”
“This project is making a real and positive impact for individuals, their families, and the wider community.”
Cllr Jo Farrell, Cabinet Member for Health at Blackpool Council, said:
“It has been an extremely positive first year for Project ADDER in Blackpool. The project has the potential to make a real impact on people’s dependence on substances and support their journey to recovery. Already we are seeing and hearing success stories thanks to involvement of the local agencies involved in the project.”
Project ADDER sees police, local authorities and health professionals work together on an intelligence-led approach to targeting criminals and safeguarding the vulnerable. The project’s Lived Experience Team has already saved an individual’s life by administering the drug nasal Naloxone, which reverses the effects of a suspected overdose.
For one service user, Angela*, Project ADDER provided the opportunity for her to turn her life around. Angela had experienced trauma in her life which made it difficult to trust people and feel safe. She had used drugs and drunken alcohol since her early teens and went on to take heroin and crack in her twenties.
A keyworker from Project ADDER took time to get to know Angela and find out how best to help her, eventually working with a housing officer to secure a safe place for Angela to live, along with a therapist who helped her to make more positive choices, whilst the project’s Lived Experience Team helped to build her confidence and self-esteem. Six months after starting to engage with the project, Angela has moved to more stable accommodation, reconnected with her family, begun a detox from methadone and seen her physical health and wellbeing improve.
“Since working with Project ADDER I have been helped to make some really positive changes to my life. The Lived Experience Team has enabled me to see that recovery is possible and I have really benefitted from access to therapy and a safe place to I live. I feel happier and more confident and for the first time I feel hopeful about my future.”
Project ADDER sites are now up and running in 13 areas across the country including Blackpool, Hastings, Middlesbrough, Norwich, Swansea Bay, Bristol, Newcastle, Wakefield, Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Knowsley, Wirral and Liverpool City.
A total of £59m investment has been invested in the sites.
The Government published its 10-year Drugs Strategy in December which will combat illegal drug use – reducing crime, saving lives, and challenging the very notion of ‘recreational drug use’, which fuels a violent and exploitative market. Through this strategy, we have committed to extending Project ADDER for a further two years.