An MP has called on the police to consider trialling a life-saving drug which can reduce the effect of an overdose.

Caroline Lucas wants Sussex Police to consider piloting the use of nasal naloxone, otherwise known as narcan, in Brighton and Hove.

The drug acts by blocking the effects of certain drugs in the brain, restoring breathing in the process, and greatly reducing the effect of an overdose from heroin and other opioids.

The Argus: Caroline Lucas and Megan Jones of Cranstoun holding NarcanCaroline Lucas and Megan Jones of Cranstoun holding Narcan (Image: Cranstoun)

Ms Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, said: “I’m calling on Sussex Police to consider piloting the use of nasal naloxone in Brighton and Hove, which has already been piloted successfully in the West Midlands, to help combat our city’s high number of drug-related deaths.

“Drug policy in this country is outdated and counter-productive – it’s time in particular for our approach to drug misuse to be revisited and harm reduction put centre stage.”

It was trialled at West Midlands Police in 2019 for one year.

David Jamieson, who was the police and crime commissioner for the West Midlands at the time, said: “This is a key part of my approach to tackling the harm drugs cause.

“Officers carrying naloxone on the beat was one of my key recommendations to help reduce the harm caused by drugs.

“We should treat addiction as a health issue, rather than purely as an enforcement issue.

“Police officers are often the first on the scene when there is an overdose. By providing officers with training to use naloxone means we can save lives."

The Argus:

But Brighton and Hove city councillor Dawn Barnett said: “It’s such a sad thing, when people sit and take drugs and overdose on the way to death.

“I can’t get my head around it. Why would police issue something like this to people who take drugs? It just encourages them to overdose as it just gives them a way out of it.

“I feel like it will encourage addiction.”

The Argus: Caroline Lucas (centre left) outside the van with the Cranstoun TeamCaroline Lucas (centre left) outside the van with the Cranstoun Team (Image: Cranstoun)

Ms Lucas’s calls come after she visited an overdose prevention centre at a conference by social justice charity Cranstoun.

The centre is a van, which provides a safe space for those who use drugs to take them safely and with trained staff on hand to intervene in the event of an overdose. It is run with a "memorandum of understanding" with the police to ensure those inside the van can consume drugs without fear of arrest.

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In 2021, Brighton and Hove had 31 deaths related to drug misuse, making it the capital for drug-related deaths in the South East, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “Tackling drug crime and related harm is a key focus for Sussex Police.

“We are aware of the potential benefits of using naloxone to help reduce drug-related deaths and work with councils and community partners across the county to broaden its availability.

“This includes the use of naloxene at some police custody centres and via targeted operations aimed at reducing drug harm in our communities.

“Officers in Sussex do not currently carry naloxone, but this position is kept under regular review and work is ongoing to identify ways to use the medication as effectively as possible.

“Across the county we work with our community partners on a range of initiatives aimed at reducing drug-related harm, including catching perpetrators, disrupting drug activity, safeguarding vulnerable people and helping to address the root causes of substance misuse.”