Councillor ‘hopeful’ in push for new substance misuse strategy


Cllr Jane Keane said the costs of not prioritising a new strategy include "more lost young lives, more children in poverty" - Credit: Jane Keane

A councillor is pushing to prioritise tackling drug and alcohol misuse in Havering after discovering needles littered near Romford town centre. 

Cllr Jane Keane, Labour councillor for St Alban’s, said she was made aware of a “drug den” after being notified by a local resident. 

Cllr Keane described herself as “completely unprepared” for the discovery of such a scene, which also included alcohol swabs and a range of other paraphernalia. 

“By that point I was feeling like I was somewhere I really shouldn’t be," she added.

The finding prompted her to contact the police, the council's director of neighbourhoods and the director of public health, raising the need to develop a new substance misuse policy as a priority. 

Cllr Jane Keane said she was 'completely unprepared' for the range of paraphernalia she saw

Cllr Jane Keane said she was "completely unprepared" for the range of paraphernalia she saw near Romford town centre - Credit: Jane Keane

In response, Cllr Keane received an email saying a new partnership group has been established and it will draft a new strategy to go before the health and wellbeing board and community safety partnership. 

But she said: “I want to see it on the table. Call me impatient. I know that these things have got to be thoroughly worked out.” 

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Mark Ansell, the council’s director of public health, said: “The new Havering Substance Misuse Reduction group is a partnership between the council and other local health and public protection organisations.

“The group met in May to identify and tackle substance misuse and associated problems in the borough, with the goal of creating a new strategy that will help agencies across Havering to work together to improve support and treatment for those affected by addiction, and to reduce crime associated with substance abuse.”

An East Area BCU spokesperson said: “Havering police are committed to tackling alcohol and drugs misuse in all its forms.

“The busy vibrant town centres are attractive locations due to the many licensed venues whom we work in partnership with to ensure the safety of all inside." 

The spokesperson added that the force's safer neighbourhood teams and drug focus desk work to identify places where substances are stored and that the force is “committed to reducing violence on our streets”. 

Cllr Keane said she is “hopeful” that a new strategy will be prioritised. 

“The costs of not prioritising everything that should be contained in it are more lost young lives, more children in poverty, communities plagued by crime and a huge financial burden on healthcare and social services.”