A pilot heroin-assisted treatment (HAT) programme is being launched in Middlesbrough, the local police and crime commissioner (PCC) has announced. The programme will concentrate on up to 15 of the most \u2018at risk\u2019 people with entrenched drug problems. \r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nParticipants will visit a clinic twice a day where diamorphine will be administered under supervision. The aim is that with \u2018the need to constantly fund street heroin removed\u2019, clients will then be able to engage with health, housing, welfare and other agencies at the clinic and \u2018get their lives back on track\u2019. \r\n\r\nThe programme will be available to people for whom all other treatment options have failed and who are \u2018causing most concern\u2019 to criminal justice, social care and health services. It has been organised and partially funded by Cleveland PCC Barry Coppinger, with further funding from Durham Tees Valley Community Rehabilitation Company and the Tees and Wear Prisons Group. \r\n\r\nThe scheme is designed in part to \u2018free up the substantial public resources\u2019 being used to address drug issues, the PCC\u2019s office states, as well as promote long-term recovery and reduce rates of drug-related deaths and acquisitive crime. Middlesbrough\u2019s 20 most prolific drug-dependent offenders alone are estimated to have cost the public purse almost \u00a3800,000 over two years, \u2018based only on crime detected\u2019. The pilot will be independently evaluated with the aim of extending it for a second year with funding from the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA). \r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\u2018This treatment and recovery pilot is aimed at those for whom all other current methods have failed,\u2019 said the project\u2019s clinical team lead Daniel Ahmed. \r\n\r\n\u2018They are on a cycle of offending, committing crime to raise funds for street heroin, being arrested and going to prison, being released and offending again. The cycle often only ends when they die, often in the street. Before joining the pilot, each of the cohort is medically assessed and the appropriate course of diamorphine is prescribed and administered under supervision daily at a specialist clinic. This removes the constant need to commit crime in order to fund street heroin addiction.\u2019 \r\n\r\n\u2018The policies of the past have failed,\u2019 added PCC Barry Coppinger. \u2018If we are serious about tackling and preventing addiction we need to listen to the experts, take notice of the evidence and act decisively. By removing street heroin from the equation you remove the need to commit crime to fund addiction and the impact this has on local residents and businesses, you remove the health risks of street heroin and the associated drugs litter and you remove the drain on public services including health and police. In addition you halt the flow of funding to drugs gangs.\u2019 \r\n\r\nMeanwhile, North Wales police will no longer automatically prosecute people caught in possession of drugs, including class A substances, according to the area\u2019s PCC, Arfon Jones. The scheme will see people arrested undergo a needs assessment with the option of then signing a 12-month contract agreeing to undertake drug treatment. \u2018If after those 12 months they haven\u2019t reoffended then they will not get prosecuted and so will not have a criminal record\u2019, Arfon Jones told the Guardian, adding that there was already \u2018de facto decriminalisation\u2019 of drugs by most British police forces.