Joint patrols are aiming to offer support and reduce stigma of drug and alcohol use in North Ayrshire towns.

An innovative joint project involving Police Scotland and Turning Point Scotland’s Ayrshire Prevention, Early Intervention and Recovery Service (PEAR) is aiming to help combat problematic substance use in North Ayrshire.

For the past 18 months, officers in the community have been accompanied on a number of patrols by PEAR Service Peer Practitioners with lived experience of alcohol and other drugs use, with around a dozen successful joint patrols having taken place so far.

Having originally started in the town centres, the patrols have since moved into local communities and housing estates. While these have mostly been in the Irvine area to date, plans are in place to increase the frequency of patrols in other North Ayrshire towns over the coming year.

The project offers an additional support mechanism for those who may be experiencing issues with alcohol and/or other drugs use, with the Peer Practitioners able to pass on vital information and advice about the help available in a relatable way, while also highlighting that recovery is achievable.

Sergeant Raymond Ferguson of Police Scotland’s Irvine Locality Policing Team said: “This project has really helped to give our officers a better understanding around alcohol and drug use and the support available in our communities. Even those not involved in the patrols are now more confident in referring anyone they encounter who is need of some help to the PEAR Service, thanks to the relationships the patrols have helped us to build with Turning Point Scotland staff.

“Being out and about with the recovery workers has also opened our eyes to areas where people may be using drugs, meaning we can keep an eye out in those areas for anyone who may be in need of some help. It also has the added benefit of building trust in our officers, as many people with addiction issues may have previously been fearful or suspicious of the Police.

“Putting people with addictions in jail is not solving the problem of drugs deaths and the devastating effects of those on families and our communities. Most of those struggling with problematic drug or alcohol us did not choose that lifestyle, and don’t want to continue that lifestyle. They just need some help to get out of it, and ensuring they can access support at the right time is crucial.”

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