For a local drug policy based on the principle of harm reduction

Efus published an article on drugs and harm reduction in the last issue of  Préventique magazine. The piece is signed by the Deputy Mayor of Strasbourg, Alexandre Feltz.

Efus has been working for over 30 years on drugs and harm reduction and, as such, has acquired a unique expertise based on its members’ practices, its participation in several European projects and its exchanges with the European Union and other international organisations.

The Solidify project, which started in 2018, deals with the establishment and sustainability of Supervised Drug Consumption Facilities (SDCFs) in several European cities and the evaluation of their local impact.

> The role of local and regional authorities

Local and regional authorities must play a fundamental role in any policy on drugs. Indeed, they are on the front line when it comes to tackling local problems of security and social cohesion linked to trafficking and consumption.

In several strategic documents, the European Union sets a path forward in terms of reducing demand and supply and increasing international cooperation, but these principles are yet to be fully implemented locally.

> Local multi-agency partnerships to reduce risks

Municipal services working in the fields of public health and public security should cooperate so as to integrate and combine both approaches.

Drug policies should be pragmatic and implemented through large, local partnerships involving public authorities, law enforcement agencies, health and education services, civil society organisations and representatives of drug users.

Local authorities are particularly well placed to coordinate and lead such co-production.

> Supervised Drug Consumption Facilities as tools to improve urban security

Supervised Drug Consumption Facilities have proved to be efficient tools that enable many local authorities, whether or not they are members of Efus, to locally improve public health and security. Local authorities can play a key role in accompanying such facilities and ensure they are well managed and accepted by local communities, but they need support and counselling in doing so.

Furthermore, national legislations should be adapted and based on evidence in order to enable local authorities to design a strategy which is tailor-made to their specific needs and context.

> Solidify: a European project on Supervised Drug Consumption Facilities (SDCFs) gathering many partners

The Solidify project – Supervised Drug Consumption Facilities to instil harm reduction and social cohesion at local level – concerns the establishment and sustainability of Supervised Drug Consumption Facilities (SDCFs) in several European cities, and the evaluation of their local impact.

Started in January 2018, it will conclude in December 2019. Efus manages the project. Its partners are the cities of Liège, Augsburg, Essen, The Hague, Lisbon, Mannheim, Paris, Strasbourg, the Brussels-Capital Region, the Public Health Authority of Barcelona, the Spanish association Well Being and Development, and UTRIP – Utrip Institute for Research and Development in Health, from Slovenia. They have support from experts of the Correlation network and from the University of Applied Sciences of Frankfurt.

> Tooling up cities and fostering the exchange of practices

The project’s main objective is to provide cities with tools and support when they establish an SDCF and evaluate its local impact.

The project fosters the exchange of practices among partner cities that have already experienced and established an SDCF and those that are envisaging or already implementing this type of facility and will benefit from their peers’ recommendations and assessment. It also strengthens local partnerships between local authorities and civil society organisations.

The purpose is to help cities identify their needs and expectations, and to build a project with all the relevant stakeholders in order to ensure the smooth establishment of an SCDF or the sustainability of an existing one.

Several studies show public acceptance is high in the neighbourhoods where such facilities exist when all local stakeholders, including neighbours, have been associated with the project through cooperation and communication.

Cities that host such facilities must accompany the organisations that manage them and help them settle in their territory, meet and discuss with all the local partners and stakeholders, and evaluate the local impact.

> Study visits, audits and international conference

Throughout the project, the partners and experts are working on the drafting of qualitative and quantitative indicators and evaluation tools in order to evaluate the local impact of SDCFs in the short, medium and long term. These tools are partially filled by the partner cities prior to each study visit, and then complemented with the peers’ and experts’ on site observations and insights.

Efus also conducts audits in cities that are in the process of opening an SDCF in order to help them identify their needs and objectives as well as design their implementation plans.

On 4 April 2019, a study visit of Strasbourg’s Supervised Drug Consumption Facility was organised following the colloquium on “Supervised Drug Consumption Facilities in Europe: current situations and prospects” held the day before (3 April) at the European Parliament.

A guidebook featuring recommendations and good practices will be produced and presented at a final event to be organised in Lisbon in December 2019 jointly with the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

Alexandre Feltz,
Deputy Mayor of Strasbourg
in charge of public and environmental health

>>> Read the May issue of Préventique magazine (in French)

>>> More information about Solidify