Select Committee on Home Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 1580 - 1585)



  1580. If we increased the number, but actually we are looking at the effect on society as a whole so far as crime is concerned, are we not?
  (Mr Löfstedt) Yes.

  1581. It is not just the individual we are talking about here. It is what the effect would be on this 40 per cent of crime—burglaries and the like. It is reasonable to suppose that will come down and therefore society will benefit as a whole.
  (Mr Löfstedt) Perhaps, perhaps not. This is a very difficult area to say something absolute about. I can understand the thinking behind heroin prescription from an individual perspective. On the other hand, I think it is very difficult to make experiments like this without also affecting other people and other groups. That is my point. If we accept methadone in Sweden we try to keep it very strict so it is not affecting the drug-free treatment or the new recruitment. That is the debate. I do not know if we will succeed in that or not but I think so. We do not see any major differences between methadone and heroin just because it is more interesting for heroin addicts to have heroin than methadone, but that is obvious. What is the benefit of going in that direction? Are there other solutions to that rather than to just fall on the drug addicts' wish?

  1582. What is the answer to that question? Are there other solutions beside methadone? Do you use naldrexone, for example?
  (Mr Löfstedt) My solution and the Swedish solution is that we should use drug-free treatment. That is the main resource that you should use. Of course, there are individuals that we cannot help in that way but there are less than we might think and we cannot at an early stage—and that is what will happen—at an early stage of a drug addict's career, if I may say so, say, "This one is not able to help", and push drug addicts away into a certain area where they will take care of themselves. It is a reservoir in a way.

  1583. You do that?
  (Mr Löfstedt) We do not do that but I think that is a risk if you put people into groups at an early stage. If you are talking about 20-year drug addicts and whether they should volunteer for methadone or heroin treatment, you also say, "It is nothing to do with you. You are helpless."

  1584. You are saying we should not go down that road?
  (Mr Löfstedt) I am saying we should not do that, at least as little as possible.

  1585. In that case thank you very much for coming. You have given us plenty to think about. This is the final oral evidence session and we shall shortly be preparing our report and we will make sure you are sent a copy. Thank you very much for coming. The session is closed.
  (Mr Löfstedt) It is a pleasure.

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