Enhanced Harm Reduction Working Group
The Enhanced Harm Reduction Working Group is a consortium of scientific experts, academics, policy makers, treatment providers and advocacy groups, working collaboratively to reduce the harms of intravenous drug use.
To develop the evidence base for reducing drug-related harm by facilitating enhanced harm reduction services in the UK. Such services include overdose prevention centres, drug checking, and high tolerance housing.
There is a well-developed evidence base for established harm reduction practices, including opioid agonist treatment, and needle and syringe programmes; however further steps need to be taken to reduce record levels of drug-related deaths in the UK. We need to go further if wish to meet global aims to eliminate the transmission of HIV and Hepatitis C among people who use drugs.
Our aim is to develop the evidence base for reducing drug-related harms by enabling enhanced harm reduction services in the UK. This collaborative initiative will evaluate whether establishing such services would prove to be cost-effective, reduce crime, improve public health, reduce drug litter, and increase engagement in treatment services.
The EHRWG encourages the use of a participatory development approach in the design and development of harm reduction services. Ensuring co-production in the design, development and implementation is key to ensuring that they work, are community-friendly, and hold the confidence of local drug-using communities. This helps to ensure high quality, non-judgemental service provision, acceptability and reduced stigma and the discrimination experienced by people who use drugs.
People who use drugs are sadly familiar with experiencing discrimination in health and social care settings. As such, those developing new services need to actively demonstrate their commitment to non-judgemental, rights-based approach and participatory development is a good starting point. When a community owns and supports harm reduction, this ensures effective service user recruitment, quality management and advocacy.
Professor of Criminal Justice
Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology
Drug Science Scientific Committee
Reader in Public Health,
Glasgow Caledonian University
Professor of Criminology
Associate Professor in the Sociology of Health
Chair of the Drugs Special Interest Group
at the Faculty of Public Health
Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation
Professor of Social Policy and Criminal Justice
Editor of the British Journal of General Practice
Reader in Psychology
Consultant Addiction Psychiatrist
Drugs Service Coordinator, Release
Managing and Technical Director, Coact
Deputy Director, Harm Reduction International
Former Detective Chief Inspector, Thames Valley Police
Head of Partnerships, Transform
Strategy Coordinator, Scottish Drugs Forum
Executive Director, Release
Diversion Scheme Policy Lead, User Voice
Treatment Provider Representatives
Deputy Director of Clinical Practice
Change Grow Live
Executive Medical Director
Campaigns and Communications Lead
Chief Executive Officer
Ana Liffey Drug Project
Chief Executive Officer
Merchants Quay Ireland
The Enhanced Harm Reduction Working Group is supported by treatment providers to ensure that the stakeholders who would be delivering these services are consulted throughout.
The Case for Overdose Prevention Centres in the UK
Part One – Quantitative Data
In Part One of this report, we describe the quantitative and geographic indicators. We estimate that there may be over 250 people in Sandwell who are in the population group that is most likely to benefit from an enhanced harm reduction service; people who inject drugs who are homeless or unstable housed.
This report strongly suggests a need for a place where people can inject drugs out of the public gaze, in a hygienic and supervised environment. This would improve the quality of life of all the residents of Sandwell, whether they inject drugs or not. It would reduce the risks of drug-related death and help to meet the complex needs of a group of people who are highly vulnerable to multiple physical and mental health problems. It would also reduce concerns about litter and other problems related to street-based injecting.
Part Two – Qualitative Data
In Part Two, we discuss the participatory consultation and research we have carried out with people who use drugs in Sandwell.
We recruited and trained a team of volunteer peer researchers, who named themselves the Sandwell Community Outreach Resources Education, or SCORE, and worked with them to find out about patterns of street-based injecting and related needs in Sandwell.
Qualitative research is essential to understand a specific local context or problem from the perspective of the impacted community.
This environment provided an ethical space within which street-based drug use could be investigated, community mobilisation deployed, and models of enhanced harm reduction discussed.