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Report Highlights Lack Of Detox Facilities

Coroner’s Report Highlights Lack Of Detox Facilities

The Coroner’s report into the deaths of two men taken into Police custody highlights the failure of the health system to provide detoxification centres under the Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Act 1966, Police Association President Greg O’Connor said today.

“This is another example of police becoming the service of last resort – the last remaining nationwide 24-7 social service in New Zealand,” Mr O’Connor said.

“The 1966 Act envisages drunks being taken home, or to detox centres, and only to police cells as a last resort. But detox centres have never been prioritised for funding, and so the last resort has become the first resort.

“People who are too intoxicated to properly communicate, and who can’t alert staff if they are having a genuine medical problem, shouldn’t be in Police cells. Police do what they can, but they are not doctors, and they are not in a position to be providing full time care and attention to the heavily intoxicated,” Mr O’Connor said.

“The Policing Bill will introduce mandatory doctor’s assessments before a drunk is detained beyond 12 hours. That’s good because it shifts the responsibility for making a medical judgment onto a health professional. But it’s also another set of tasks and responsibilities for police staff to comply with that, simply, should not be their job.

“The Coroner’s report is clear. The Health Ministry has a responsibility to provide proper facilities for these people, and it’s time they stopped expecting Police to provide a free health service they are not equipped to perform,” Mr O’Connor said.

ENDS

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