Safer Towns One Year On

March 8th, 2019 by

Our Safer Towns Scheme, developed and coordinated by our Community Safety Team, facilitates and supports a coordinated multi-agency approach to community safety issues, to improve feelings of safety and public reassurance, reduce the risk of harm to the community and protect vulnerable groups. The partnerships work to reduce and prevent crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour. The scheme was launched last April with full governance developed for each of the towns which include; Penzance, Camborne and Redruth, Falmouth, Truro, Newquay, St Austell, Bodmin, Saltash and Liskeard. The team have successfully established the new Safer Towns and broadened the remit of the three Safer Towns which were already in existence.

An enormous amount of work has taken place over the last year to establish partnership arrangements and develop delivery plans based on crime information provided by our Amethyst Team through Town Profiles and feedback from the Cornwall Council Residents Survey.  New Town Profiles have recently been provided to the Safer Towns with delivery plans for 2019/20 being developed currently to account for changes in crime trends and also emerging issues for next year.

The scheme was supported by the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) with £5,000 allocated to each town. Partners have reviewed priorities and put forward proposals for how the funding should be spent locally. There are a number of new exciting projects, campaigns and outcomes which have been delivered in 2018/19 and will be put in place during 2019/20 through the support of the PCC.

All Safer Towns meet on a regular basis to share current intelligence, raise concerns and deal with emerging dynamic issues collectively. A key factor in the success of the scheme is the wide membership of the groups, which include; public, private and voluntary organisations; who are able to feed in local intelligence and local issues. Each town is unique with different community safety priorities, however there have also been a number of initiatives which have been rolled out through all the Safer Towns.

A shoplifting prevention briefing presented by Devon and Cornwall Police’s Crime Prevention Officer has been organised for all Safer Towns, this provides practical information to local businesses and security teams of how to protect themselves from thefts. It also included information on evidence collection and the process around this. We received positive feedback from the sessions run to date and look to run more sessions in the future.

Blue Light Training has been provided to three pilot towns across the County; Penzance, St Austell and Bodmin. Blue Light supports individuals who are change resistant, problematic drug and alcohol users not engaged with treatment, regularly presenting to emergency services. A multi-agency meeting in each of the towns will provide a mechanism to discuss individuals on a regular basis to collectively provide full support.

A large focus for a number of the towns has been concerns around street drinking and vulnerable individuals; awareness work to ensure the public and communities are aware of local support and who to report concerns to has been extremely important in ensuring the right agencies are informed. Multi-agency walkabouts has been effective in providing reassurance to the public and businesses, targeting specific areas where we have been receiving complaints/concerns raised.

Brief overview of a few of the key initiatives which have been delivered in the towns;

  • Agreement to develop and open a town centre community safety hub accessible to the public in Penzance. The lease has been secured by Cornwall Council Nov 2018. Fire Safety assessment and remedial work in progress.
  • A 12 month pilot has been jointly funded by Penzance Town Council and Cornwall Council for an ASB Caseworker specific to Penzance. This post will be recruited to in March.
  • Agreed siting of two sharps bins in the Camborne both bins will be funded from the PCC Safer Town seed funding.
  • Safer Camborne and Safer Redruth have facilitated a review of local service provision for young people in the area. It has identified the need for a youth café in the Redruth area which will provide a safe space for local young people to go. This is still in the planning process; Safer Towns funding for Redruth will contribute to the opening of Redruth Youth Café, the facility will open in September 2019
  • In Redruth, Police and Community Safety staff are piloting monthly joint surgeries for the public regarding ASB concerns
  • Safer Camborne, Safer Redruth and Safer Penzance have held awareness days in each of the towns in order to promote activity regarding anti-social behaviour and crime to reassure public and raise awareness of partnership working in the area;
  • Shop Watch has been introduced to businesses in Redruth and Camborne, which allows shop staff to communicate with each other with the aim to reduce shoplifting by identifying prolific offenders. This is still in its infancy but training from the police prevention officer will be commencing in early 2019.
  • Safer Falmouth provided information to members of the public at Gyllyngvase Beach following public safety concerns. The events were held to provide awareness of the risk to others from leaving barbeques on the beach, as well as the harmful environmental impact.
  • Following an incident of drink spiking Safer Falmouth ran an awareness campaign to local residents. The partnership provided leaflets to households throughout Falmouth outlining how to keep safe whilst drinking as well as offering safety equipment for bottles. Falmouth University and Exeter University also provided awareness to students on the What Will Your Drink Cost campaign.
  • Truro Safe have conducted two walkabouts throughout the City, providing businesses with key contact information, as well as the opportunity to raise any concerns and find out about the work of the partnership.
  • Following concerns of access for emergency services due to poorly parked vehicles blocking roads within Killigrew Gardens, St Erme, Truro Safe; led by Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service, implemented the Think Before You Park initiative. Partners visited households throughout the area and left leaflets highlighting the responsibility drivers have to ensure that roads are accessible and the implications, if this is not considered, on emergency service response.
  • Truro Safe continues to have donation boxes available throughout the City which supports those within the City who are homeless. The partnership was pleased to provide sleeping bags and fund two outreach worker packs using the latest donations from members of the public.
  • Safer St Austell visited residents of St Blazey in August to discuss local issues following concerns that had been made and provide information on support available. Residents reiterated their concerns; which included noise nuisance. The walkabout was successful with approximately 27 households engaged. The partnership also spoke to young people in the community to understand what concerns they have and how these may be addressed. The partnership will be looking into the feedback that was provided and potential changes that could be made, which could positively impact on the issues faced by the community.
  • Further work needed to take place regarding public perception of crime within St Austell; Safer St Austell has updated the Communications Plan to take account of this priority. The objectives continue to be to promote successes and the work of the partnership, target engagement to best address concerns of safety and ensure negative concerns are addressed swiftly and effectively. The group have increased articles for local publications and the website along with social media posts. They have also updated the Community Action Days calendar for 2018/19 to promote the work of the partnership and support services including a very successful Sleep Out Event which raised awareness of homelessness. A new scheme was also introduced following this event to support the local homeless charity and promote signposting.
  • Safer Bodmin has received a full briefing on current county lines activity in the Town from the Police Intelligence Directorate. The group has prioritised raising public awareness of this complex crime and will focus on vulnerability and building resilience.
  • Mapping the services available in Bodmin against the nine reducing reoffending pathways is underway. Once any gaps have been identified it is Safer Bodmin’s ambition to influence and potentially fund services to meet the local needs.
  • Safer Bodmin have supported the Berryfields Community Centre and agreed to contribute towards the funding of this vital youth provision in the town. Planning is also underway on a youth focused event with the Bodmin Watch; this event will be based on the Junior Life Skills events and will incorporate an art work competition with the pupils from Bodmin College.  Additionally, during March 2019 Safer Bodmin will run a survey with pupils from Bodmin College to seek their views on community safety in the town and what activities they engage with and would want to see in Bodmin.  The results of this survey will inform future plans for 2019.20.
  • In Saltash there have been a number of sessions delivered to pupils and parents of Saltash.net School to raise awareness about drug misuse. These have included sessions on the impact of drug use from the police as well as harm reduction / mental health education delivered from YZUP (young persons’ substance misuse service). Safer Saltash have been working closely with Saltash.net secondary school and have recently supported their BeWell whole school drop down day focused on mental wellbeing.
  • Safer Saltash have met with the Tamar Bridge Committee to discuss the issue of people completing suicide off the Tamar Bridge. Further work in partnership with the Committee will now take place with a focus on suicide prevention. Additionally, a recent presentation at a Safer Saltash meeting from the Public Health Healthy Promotions team resulted in a decision by the group to offer a ‘Suicide Talk’ (3 hours) to a multi-disciplined group in Saltash focusing on businesses and community groups (up to 90 delegates).  Following on from this, a core group will be identified and trained in ASIST (2 days) and become Suicide First Aiders.
  • Safer Saltash identified ASB as a priority area; the group have focused on this and supported the Core’s successful OPCC bid for ‘The Friday Night Project’ and provided funding for the Saltmill initiative for young people.  Saltash has a current seasonal issue with tombstoning and work is underway to revise a leaflet containing safety advice on tombstoning and letters have been sent from Safer Saltash to Network Rail regarding concerns over access to the Network Rail owned pillar where young people are tombstoning from.  The group have also agreed to part fund a body worn camera for the local ASB caseworker.  The group are also exploring the opportunity for the Town and Waterfront Wardens to be granted Community Safety Accreditation Scheme (CSAS) powers.
  • Safer Liskeard has made an evidence based decision to purchase a needle disposal unit to be located outside the Town Council owned Sungirt Toilets. A local arrangement has been reached with regards to the safe emptying and disposal of the clinical waste and signage and comms are currently being developed to support this initiative.
  • Safer Liskeard supported National Domestic Abuse week and held a successful public engagement event at Liskeard Community Hospital on 30th November 18. The Healthy Relationships Programme has been delivered in Liskeard Secondary School and the group will be utilising some of the OPCC funding to purchase mobile phones and personal attack alarms for Domestic Abuse victims in the town.  These crime prevention/safety resources will be managed by the IDVA locally.
  • The Safer Liskeard team have identified Castle Park as an area for environmental improvement activity and have conducted a site visit to the area. This activity aims to promote residents taking pride in their town whilst improving feelings of safety and will complement the soon to be reformed ‘Friends of Castle Park’ group.  The work will include targeted multi-agency outreach; consultation with residents; fundraising for play equipment; organised activities in the park; a link to the Time Credits project and CRC unpaid work involvement in remedial work in the park.

What’s coming up?

  • Blue Light Scheme to be implemented across all towns;
  • Specialist Youth Programme led by our Phoenix Team developed to support young people involved with crime and potentially deter them through engagement;
  • Community Action Days to be completed for 2019 including a youth engagement event in Bodmin, joint Engagement events with the OPCC in all Safer Towns and walkabouts within most of the Safer Towns;
  • Initial scoping work is now taking place for a diversity festival in Bodmin to celebrate multi-cultural food and music. The purpose of this work is to build community resilience, break down barriers and promote cohesion.
  • Safer Liskeard will have a community safety stand at Liskeard Community Fair on Saturday 30th March; and Safer Saltash will be at the Saltash Regatta. These events will involve all partners and the OPCC road show van and will be a fantastic opportunity to engage with residents and to understand their needs in relation to crime, disorder and community safety.
  • Truro Safe signage to be fitted at various locations across Truro, providing information on support services;
  • Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence campaign for Truro to be piloted;
  • A number of campaigns to be developed in Newquay including; drug litter, thefts, water safety concerns;
  • Review of noise nuisance complaints 2018 and contact procedure for complaints for Falmouth;
  • working with Heartlands (Pool) business manager, residents and partner agencies to set up a Residents Community Safety Group;
  • young people’s services networking event to be held in Camborne
  • a focus on business engagement and training in Penzance
  • Mobile CCTV camera usage being investigated in Penzance and Redruth.
  • a focused countywide campaign to encourage reporting of crime and ASB to the appropriate numbers

We want to thank all the partners who have been involved with the schemes and continue to support the work of the partnership. If you would like to find out more about a particularly Safer Town please visit https://safercornwall.co.uk/safer-towns/ or email communitysafety@cornwall.gov.uk.  Please follow East Cornwall Community Safety Officer on Twitter here  https://twitter.com/LucyAllison_CSO

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Safer Cornwall Training Programme 2019-20

March 6th, 2019 by

Accessible training to help identify risk, reduce harm and support people in the process of change.

The DAAT offers a range of training opportunities to improve knowledge, skills, awareness and joint working across a range of areas, particularly mental health. The courses are available to internal and external staff and run throughout the year.

 

 

We offer the following courses:

  • Alcohol Identification and Brief Advice
  • Basic Drug Awareness
  • Connect 5 Mental Wellbeing Stage 1
  • Dual Diagnosis
  • Mental Health First Aid
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Time Credits and Supporting Asset Based Working
  • Young People’s Substance Awareness & Screening

For more information please visit our page here

Email: DAATevents@cornwall.gov.uk

Telephone: 01726 223400

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Cornwall’s 2018 festive alcohol safety messaging …

February 6th, 2019 by

Over Christmas and New Year, a series of alcohol responsibility messages went out under the hashtags #CornwallChristmas and #CornwallPartyTime

These were all based on messages in the campaign webpage “Party Time”.

The themes covered were the lack of a December Drinking Superpower, having a Safe Night Out, Drink Driving facts, precautions against spiking for customers and Bars, walking away from trouble rather than becoming an imaginary drunk UN, all promoted under the long running Safer Cornwall message of ‘What Will Your Drink Cost?’


The messages were picked up on the Alcohol Strategy Facebook and Twitter feeds, as well as the Cornwall Council and Public Health social media.

The most widely read posts were this drink driving Facebook message, this ‘Walk Away‘ Twitter post, and this Spiking message.

The spiking messages also picked up a lot of views on the Cornwall Council Social Media.

Overall, the messages reached a total of about 40,000 hits, highlighted the issues people are most concerned about, and have given us pointers for this year’s messages.

 

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Infection Control for Injecting Drug Users January 2019

January 24th, 2019 by

PHE and Health Protection, Cornwall and Plymouth have issued the following notice:-

  • During 2018, we have received reports of invasive injection site infections from across the South West.  This has included an outbreak of iGAS and most recently two cases of rare Fusobacterium gonidiaformans.
  • Once individuals become infected their health can rapidly deteriorate particularly within the most vulnerable segments of this population, where the consequences can be life-threatening.
  • It is imperative that anyone working with injecting drug users delivers the full range of harm reduction information and advice  – particularly around the risks of injecting site infections.
  • Some drug users lick their needles after injecting believing that this sterilises. This increases risk, due to germs we all carry in the mouth that once they enter the bloodstream of injectors, become a new threat. Please reiterate that this is not a safe practice.
  • Encourage and facilitate users with signs of infection (attached) to get prompt medical attention.
  • Needle Exchange remains a critical component of the care pathway, and is an evidence based intervention supported by NICE and the UK clinical guidelines for substance misuse. Please do everything you can to support people to be aware of the risks of sharing or reusing equipment and to use new equipment every time.

A poster detailing key advice on safe injecting and infection control. Safe_injecting_poster

Hand washing video from Harm Reduction Works

Cleaning works: how to clean a used syringe Harm Reduction Works Video

 

Harm Reduction Works injecting and infections leaflet

 

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Award Winning Mind & Body

November 8th, 2018 by

The Self Harm prevention programme ‘Mind and Body’, delivered by Addaction Young Peoples’ team, YZUP, has won the Innovation in CYPMH at the National Positive Practice in Mental Health Awards .

MAB was shortlisted for the award and then was competing against Hampshire CAMHS – New Forest Team. –  Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and The Emotionally Healthy Schools (EHS) Programme –  Cheshire & Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

 

Winning this award will give MAB even more publicity and enable it to be showcased to other areas – hopefully resulting in  more YP who are experiencing Self Harm receiving early intervention.

The Mind and Body programme, commissioned by NHS Kernow and delivered by professionals from substance misuse and mental health charity Addaction, has won the Innovation in Children and Young People’s Mental Health award at the National Positive Practice in Mental Health Awards.

Vivien Hughes, Addaction manager from the Young Person’s Substance Misuse Service (YZUP), said: “We were delighted to be shortlisted in this category and we were up against two NHS trusts who had also been nominated, so a very competitive category. When they read out our name we were blown away. Of course we are immensely proud.”

This latest award makes it a hat trick of wins for the Mind and Body programme as last year we also won two other national awards from the Royal Society for Public Health, winning the Public Mental Health and Wellbeing Award as well as the overall Public Health Minister’s Award for our work around adolescent self-harm. The awards are great recognition for our staff and have strengthened our resolve to expand delivery so we can reach more people.

“Our most recent award also contributes to the overall recognition of the quality of the service, the importance of young people having access to early mental health intervention but also the achievement of staff and the talented people working within the service.”

The programme was first designed and delivered by Addaction Young People services in Kent, before funding was obtained through NHS England to enable it to be offered in Cornwall.

Last year, NHS Kernow agreed to provide funding to deliver the programme to run in community settings so that it could be offered right across the county.

“NHS Kernow can see the very real value of this type of early intervention. Evaluation of the programme has demonstrated a reduction in self-harming thoughts and action and also highlighted the benefits gained including improved emotional wellbeing, communication and engagement at school.”

Young people are referred into the programme, complete an assessment, and then are offered a series of interactive group sessions and one-to-ones that encourage open discussion about mental health and related issues.

These groups are a safe place to talk about topics that are often stigmatised. Young people are able to explore thoughts and actions in relation to self-harm, looking at why risks are taken and how to reduce them, and help develop communication, self-expression and assertiveness skills. It aims to provide students with strategies to reduce their risk-taking behaviour, improve their emotional wellbeing, and build life-long emotional resilience strategies.

A student from Cornwall, who is referred to only as Adam to protect his identity, said about the service:

“The programme gives me a way of expressing how I feel, to talk about mental health and say ‘I’m not ok’ and know others struggle too.”

The ceremony was held at Liverpool football club

YZUP are our commissioned young peoples’ service, delivering education, prevention and treatment services for young people across Cornwall & Isles of Scilly.

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Partnership Plan consultation

November 8th, 2018 by

Safer Cornwall’s new three year Partnership Plan is now open for consultation and this is your opportunity to tell us what you think about it.

The consultation is open to all. You will find a copy of the Plan on the Safer Cornwall website www.safercornwall.co.uk/surveys with a short on-line survey for sending us your comments. The consultation closes on 13 December 2018.

We are inviting you to read the plan and let us know what you like about it, what you don’t like and if you’d like to see any changes. We will then use all of this feedback to shape the final plan, which will be published in March 2019.

A lot has changed over the last three years and our new Plan must meet the challenges of a changing delivery landscape and risk profile for community safety.

Devon and Cornwall Police, along with other forces across England and Wales, is recording much higher levels of crimes than in previous years and the profile of crime is changing. Domestic abuse and sexual violence, exploitation and cyber-crime are increasingly taking the place of traditional crime prevention and enforcement and these issues are more complex, more resource intensive and require longer term responses to resolve.

This places a strong focus on partners working more effectively together to manage risk and vulnerability, against a backdrop of pressures on budgets and resources across many areas of the public sector. There are opportunities to explore a more efficient, more joined up approach and move more resources into prevention and early intervention.

Drawing on a robust evidence base, the Plan identifies the community safety issues that most impact on the safety, health and wellbeing of Cornwall’s residents and visitors and sets out what we intend to do to tackle these issues effectively and achieve safer, more healthy and more resilient communities.

If you have any queries or require information in a different format please contact us by email mail@safercornwall.co.uk or contact Cornwall Council on 0300 1234 100.

Printed copies of the Plan and the survey will be provided through Information Services and Libraries. We will also be holding some targeted sessions with service user and community groups.

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National Burn Awareness Day

September 27th, 2018 by

National Burn Awareness Day 2018

17 October.

A burn injury is for life. The scars are physical as well as psychological, and can present life-long challenges for the individual and their families.  What many people don’t know is that children and the elderly are the most vulnerable, and the majority of injuries occur as a result of an accident that could so easily have been prevented.

In 2017, 7,502 children were burned or scalded. Hot drinks are the most common cause of scald injury in children – followed by contact with electric cookers, irons and hair straighteners.

First Aid

Treat burns with cold running water for 20 minutesGood first aid following a burn or scald can make an enormous difference in recovery times and the severity of scarring.

Two important things to remember are:

Cool, Call, Cover

  1. Cool the burn with running cold tap water for 20 minutes and remove all clothing and jewellery (unless it is melted or firmly stuck to the wound)
  2. Call for help – 999, 111 or local GP for advice
  3. Cover with cling film or a sterile, non-fluffy dressing or cloth. Make sure the patient is kept warm

Stop, Drop, roll

“Stop, drop and roll” is used when clothing catches fire. Children can get confused about when to stop, drop and roll. It is important to know when to do this. Children who do not have a good understanding of stop, drop and roll will sometimes do this if they burn a finger or need to get outside if the smoke alarm sounds. Only use stop, drop and roll when clothing catches fire.

Find out more how to prevent burns HERE

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Drink Spiking

September 25th, 2018 by

How to stay alert, and how to respond:

As reported widely in the local and national media, a drink spiking incident in Falmouth is now being investigated by The Police.

If you become aware of such an incident, please follow this advice given by Devon and Cornwall Police, and take these actions swiftly:

“Report it to the police as soon as you can. They will need to take blood and urine samples. Most drugs leave the body within 72 hours of being taken, but some can be gone in 12 hours so it’s important to be tested as soon as possible.

If you have been sexually assaulted, even if you are too upset to report it to the police immediately, you should try to seek medical assistance if you have been hurt or injured. Any forensic evidence obtained during tests can be stored.”

https://www.devon-cornwall.police.uk/advice/your-community/drugs-and-alcohol/alcohol/drink-spiking/

“If you begin to feel really drunk after only a couple of drinks, get help from a trusted friend or a member of staff from the club or pub management.

Stay away from situations that you do not feel comfortable with.

Remember that alcohol can affect your actions and reactions as well as reduce your ability to be alert – alcohol is the most common date rape drug.

https://www.devon-cornwall.police.uk/advice/your-personal-safety/staying-safe-while-out-for-the-night/

Please be alert, enjoy Cornwall safely, and report anything that concerns you to The Police.

Who to call for help:

Police:

Call 999

If you are in danger, please dial 999 immediately or 101 in a non-emergency.

If you ring 999 but can’t talk, make sure the Police know you are there by coughing or tapping the handset, or by dialling 55.

Cornwall Reach Hub

Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Helpline:

0300 777 4777  

 

 

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Police warning over substance abuse – Two girls hospitalised

August 1st, 2018 by

Police warning over substance abuse

Detectives in Bodmin are currently investigating an incident which left two teenagers needing medical assistance following suspected substance abuse in Bodmin.

Officers were notified at about 11:00pm Sunday 29 July to reports of two teenage girls who had taken an unknown substance and became very unwell as a result.

The girls, a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old, were both taken to Treliske Hospital where their condition was stabilised. The 16-year-old girl was later released from hospital, the 17-year-old girl is currently recovering in hospital.

DC Andy Petherick said: “The substance that these girls are believed to have taken came in the form of yellow tablets which were in the shape of a shield with ‘EA7’ written on them, similar to the one pictured.

“We are urging young people to stay away from substances. You do not know what is in them or how strong the drug may be or how your body will react to them.”

Anybody with information about this incident are asked to contact police via 101@dc.police.uk or by calling 101 and quote log number 989 29/07/2018

 

 

 

https://www.devon-cornwall.police.uk/News/NewsArticle.aspx?id=e5f87eac-1c6f-49ca-ba0f-f71f9de860f8

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Alprazolam (Xanax) – What are the Facts?

July 30th, 2018 by

Public Health England briefing

Over the past year, there has been increasing media coverage about alprazolam (typically referred to by the brand name Xanax), highlighting what is being seen as a rise in the number of young people using it. Most of the media reports have described individual cases or reports from treatment services, and there has been little discussion of the research evidence or the actual data.

As with all media coverage which highlights potential changes in drug trends, there is a risk that the evidence isn’t clearly presented or even available, and that raising the profile of a particular drug can inadvertently increase interest from some drug users.

What is alprazolam?

Alprazolam is a medicine in the benzodiazepine family of drugs. Benzodiazepines are most commonly prescribed for the treatment of anxiety and insomnia, and they are also prescribed to control seizures caused by epilepsy.

The most frequently prescribed benzodiazepine in the UK is diazepam, known by the tradename Valium. In comparison, alprazolam is a faster acting drug and is about 10 times stronger, meaning that it can rapidly cause feelings of sedation.

Like other benzodiazepines, alprazolam can cause problems when taken without medical supervision. In the short term, its misuse can cause over-sedation, collapsing and overdose. Longer-term use can lead to physical dependence and severe withdrawal upon reducing or stopping use.

Furthermore, taking any benzodiazepine with alcohol and/or other drugs increases the risk of harm. This is particularly the case when benzodiazepines are mixed with other sedative drugs.

Alprazolam is not available from the NHS, but can be obtained on a private prescription in the UK. Illicit alprazolam, normally in the form of counterfeit Xanax tablets, can be bought from street level drug markets and is also available to purchase from illegal websites and social media apps.

What is being said about alprazolam (Xanax)?

There have been a growing number of personal stories reported in the media, often about young people who have developed problems with alprazolam (Xanax), as well as anecdotal reports that they are self-medicating for anxiety issues.

There have also been discussions around alprazolam in political circles. In January this year, the MP Bambos Charalambous led the first debate in the House of Commons to discuss its misuse.

Sometimes, the use of alprazolam (Xanax) is portrayed in the media as a major epidemic among young people. There is currently no evidence of this, but, as we explain further down, there is some evidence that prevalence is increasing. It is important to understand that patterns of drug use change over time. Some drugs rapidly emerge but then their use quickly declines, other drugs persist and cause significant and sustained harm. It is currently too early to know which category alprazolam will fall into.

What do we know about alprazolam use?

As the media coverage of alprazolam continues, PHE has been asked to comment, particularly on trends. There is some evidence to suggest that use is a growing problem, particularly among young people and young adults. However, the data we have does not give a clear picture of the prevalence of alprazolam use, as some of these data cover all benzodiazepines and not alprazolam specifically, making it more difficult to detect changes in use.

Preliminary hospital admission data in England for 2017 indicates that there has been an increase in the number of people aged under 20 admitted to hospital with benzodiazepine poisoning. Over the same period, enquiries to the National Poisons Information Service about the treatment of alprazolam poisoning have increased substantially. PHE has examined UK police seizures data for drugs that were submitted for forensic analysis, which showed that the number of alprazolam seizures was far greater in 2017 than in previous years, increasing from fewer than ten seizures in 2016 to over 800 in 2017.

Many of the Xanax tablets available on illicit markets are not of pharmaceutical grade, but are in fact counterfeit. This is a major concern because these counterfeit products may contain very variable amounts of alprazolam, making it hard for drug users to decide how much to take. Counterfeit Xanax has also been shown to sometimes contain other drugs and/or potentially dangerous adulterants.

Information we have received from TICTAC, a drug analysis laboratory, has confirmed that samples produced to look like real Xanax tablets actually contained other drugs such as etizolam, which is another benzodiazepine linked to a large number of deaths in Scotland. TICTAC also found that ‘fake’ tablets that did contain alprazolam varied greatly in strength, with some tablets having more than 10 times the normal dose of an authentic Xanax tablet.

The unpredictability of dose can be very dangerous to drug users who will not be able to judge how much alprazolam (or other substituted drugs) the tablets contains until after they have consumed it and are experiencing harmful effects.

What is being done and what should be done?

What PHE is doing

At PHE, we’ve been looking at all national data and other intelligence to try to get a better understanding of alprazolam use in England. We are also talking to experts and others to build a clearer picture.

Our locally based PHE Centre teams are working closely with local authorities, providing them with data, guidance and other bespoke support to help them assess local treatment need, and commission services to meet that need. This may include specific support for those misusing alprazolam depending on the size of the problem in their area.

We are piloting Report Illicit Drug Reactions (RIDR), an online reporting system for harm caused by illicit drugs, particularly new psychoactive substances (NPS). This system also captures the harms caused by misused medications, such as alprazolam.

When new drugs or patterns of use emerge, the particular health consequences associated with them may not always be fully understood at first. For example, the bladder problems caused by ketamine were not originally recognised until different treatment services began to join the dots and find the link between the two. RIDR seeks to speed up the identification of harms, so that health and treatment services can rapidly deliver the most appropriate interventions. PHE encourages frontline staff to use RIDR to report clinical harms they are seeing in their local areas. This helps build a better understanding of the emerging problems and their geographical distribution.

PHE holds a quarterly clinical network meeting with experts on new drugs and emerging drug trends, which provides the opportunity to discuss data from RIDR, the latest NPS-related research, and other sources. After each meeting, we update the RIDR dashboard to log current issues and concerns. Alprazolam has featured on the dashboard since September 2017.

What are we doing in Cornwall & Isles of Scilly?

Our treatment services have responded to this emerging pattern of use by learning more, training their staff, producing information for young people, raising awareness of the problem locally, and offering advice, support and treatment to young people having problems.

Drug Watch, an information network, put together a briefing on alprazolam for professionals and the public (see below) which we are disseminating.

We seek to ensure that staff working in services in contact with vulnerable groups are well-informed; and support the development of appropriate responses.

It is especially important that any local communications to professionals and young people are proportionate so that they raise awareness and knowledge without driving up interest and drug-seeking.

Download PDF FileAlprazolam Infosheet DrugWatch

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Safer Cornwall are a working partnership involving: