Substance Misuse Policy
(Adopted from Young People’s Services)
Throughout this policy the terms youth worker/ youth support worker will refer to any person, paid or volunteer, who undertakes work with young people within Door 84
The aim of this policy
This policy is to help reduce the levels of harm associated with alcohol and substance misuse to both individuals and their communities.
This document will:
• Provide a clear policy framework and practical guidance for Young People’s Services staff working with young people.
• Clarify legal, professional and managerial expectations in situations where staff might be exposed to risk and difficult dilemmas
Purpose of the policy
This policy is for the protection and safety of youth/youth support workers and young people.
Throughout the policy references will be made to other services available to young people and national policies and guidelines. It is recommended that youth workers and youth support workers familiarise themselves with these before undertaking any substance misuse work with young people.
The role of the Youth Support Worker
The role of the Youth Support Worker when working with the issue of substance use and misuse is to give young people the information and support to help them make decisions and informed choices with regard to their own health and well-being.
Youth Support Workers need to strike a balance between:
a) Ensuring that drug use and supply does not take place on the premises and that young people are protected from drugs and:
b) Not over reacting to the discussion of drug and substance use by young people if it incurs little apparent risk of harm and takes place away from premises for which Door 84 are responsible. Such discussion should always be brought to the team reflections after each session or to the Manager if you feel it needs immediate attention.
Drugs on the premises
‘The responsibility of youth workers for young people who attend their projects, clubs or activities is best defined by section 3(5) Children Act 1989. This section states that ‘an individual shall do what is responsible for the purpose of safeguarding or promoting a child’s welfare while the child is in his or her care’. The duties owed to young people by staff of a youth centre/project derive from the general law relating to negligence, assault, contract or specific statutory requirements which might arise if certain events occur’. (Children’s Legal Centre 2005)
See also Door 84’s Policies and Procedures:
• Professional Responsibilities and Duties Policy
• Confidentiality and Information Sharing Policy
• Safe Guarding Policy
It is an offence under section 8 Misuse of Drugs acts 1971 for an occupier, or anyone involved in the management of any premises to knowingly allow the premises to be used for:
• The smoking of opium or cannabis;
• The preparation of opium or
• The production or supply of controlled drugs.
However, in order to establish that an offence had been committed, the prosecution must prove that the defendant actually knew that these things were taking place or that they had ignored the incident and therefore hadn’t prevented it.
This imposes a considerable duty for youth workers/youth support workers to ensure that drugs are not used or brought onto the premises therefore:
• Young people seen to be preparing, taking controlled drugs or inhaling solvents should be asked to stop and leave the premises immediately and the police are to be contacted if YW’s feel that the YP may come to harm
• Staff should not put themselves or other people at risk of personal injury, if the young person/people refuse to stop or leave, police assistance should be requested as soon as it is safe to do so
• The police should be called immediately if illegal/controlled drugs are being supplied on the premises
Taking possession of drugs from young people
Youth workers cannot search a young person whom they suspect are in possession of drugs, an enforced search could be interpreted as assault and they should not search the young person’s property (i.e. bags etc.) without their consent. If the youth worker feels that it is essential that the young person is searched then they should call the police. However it is acceptable for the worker to ask the young person to turn out his or her pockets, this should always be carried out in the presence of another worker and incident report procedures should be followed.
Under section 5 Misuse of Drugs Act it is an offence for a person to have a controlled drug in his or her possession. However, it is an offence if the person e.g. youth worker/support worker can prove that he or she took the drug from a young person with the intention of preventing an offence from being committed. There is no guidance for youth workers on the procedures that should be followed after confiscating drugs. Drugs: Guidance for schools (DfES 2004) sets out guidance for schools in such situations, which will be followed by York Young People’s Services:
Any person taking temporary possession of an illegal drug should:
1. Ensure that another youth worker is witness and present throughout;
2. Seal the drug in a plastic bag and record the date, time and witnesses present;
3. Store the drug in a secure location such as a safe
4. The police should be informed and arrangements made to hand the package over to be destroyed.
5. The incident should be recorded using the incident report procedures and the Youth Worker/Manager should be notified.
It is important that the young people who use Door 84 are aware that:
• There is no legal obligation on youth workers to report an incident involving drugs to the police or disclose the names of any individuals involved. However it is our policy to inform the police and disclose the name of the young person, when there is an intent to supply or the substance involved is a Class A drug. Where the substance is a Class B or C drug and there is no intent to supply, it will be at the discretion of the youth worker as to whether the name of the young person will be disclosed. However it is the youth/youth support workers responsibility to challenge the young people’s views with regard to rights and responsibilities.
• If a young person enters premises and they are intoxicated, if it is safe for them to do so, they will be asked to leave and not return until the nest scheduled youth session.
• If the young person is under the age of eighteen and intoxicated to an extent that they pose a danger to themselves or others, a parent, guardian or other responsible adult will be contacted to collect the young person.
Young people are not to bring alcohol onto the premises. If a young person enters the premises under the influence of alcohol the procedure should be followed as outlined below.
Smoking is not allowed on the premises – outside of the gate is desirable. If a young person attempts to light a cigarette within the building they should be asked to leave.
It is not illegal for a young person to be in possession of solvents (aerosols, gasses and glues) at any age. However the inhalation of solvents poses significant risk of harm, therefore if the youth worker suspects a young person is in possession of solvents for the purpose of inhalation, the young person should be asked to leave the premises. If the young person is intoxicated, the procedure should be followed as detailed below.
Promoting our Policy
It is recommended that young people are included in the design of a policy statement that is displayed clearly in the club/ project outlining the Young Groves policy on drugs, smoking and alcohol. And that all young people are aware about the limits to confidentiality and the procedures that will be followed if drugs or alcohol are brought onto the premises, or if a young person enters the building under the influence of a substance, either legal or illegal.
What is a drug?
A drug is a substance which, when taken into the body, may alter a person’s mood, feelings, perceptions, physiology or behaviour. Substance is the collective term used when referring to drugs, alcohol, tobacco and solvents within this policy.
The 1971 Act (amended through the Criminal justice 2003 Act, which came into effect in 2004) divides drugs into three classes depending on the degree of harm deemed attributable to each drug. In turn the maximum penalties for being convicted of an offence under the Act are fixed according to the class of drug.
The drugs which are deemed most harmful are in class A and those deemed least harmful are in class C. Within each class, penalties are highest for trafficking offences and lower for possession. The drugs in each class can be subject to change, up to date information can be found on http://www.talktofrank.com
If a young person is aged eighteen or above, most cases of possession will receive a warning and the drugs will be confiscated. If the young person is seventeen or under and in possession of any drug they will be arrested.
Legal Highs Awareness
As legal highs are becoming more accessible and published, it is important to raise awareness of Legal Highs as well as Illegal Drugs.
The Drugs Bill 2005:
• Gives the police powers to test for class A drugs on arrest and require those who test positive to attend a drugs assessment and follow up appointment.
• Makes dealing near a school, or using children as couriers for drugs an aggravated offence, which results in tougher sentencing.
• Introduces a new presumption that those caught with more drugs than reasonable for personal use will be intending to supply, which carries tougher penalties.
• Gives the police tougher powers to tackle dealers who swallow their drugs. The police will be able to order an x-ray or ultrasound in order to detect the drugs.
Young people should be made aware that cannabis can affect the ability to drive for up to fourteen hours and from January 2006 the Drug Driving Test will become compulsory, this will be the Field Impairment Test (FIT) which incorporates:
1. A test for coordination (walking in a straight line)
2. Standing on one leg and toughing the nose
3. Measuring pupil size
4. Ability to estimate time (the passing of 30 seconds) a wrong estimate of less than 15 seconds or over one minute could result in arrest.
Confidentiality and Child Protection.
There are cases when contacting a parent/guardian may not be the best course of action. Negative family relations may be the underlying reason for the young person’s substance misuse. The circumstances should be discussed with the appropriate line Manager who will assist with the decision on the best course of action.
The right to confidentiality is not absolute and should not be guaranteed. If a youth worker wishes to pass information they should seek permission from the young person to do so. There are exceptional circumstances where confidentiality cannot be maintained, they are defined as being where:
• A young person is in a life threatening situation;
• Inaction might place them/someone else in a life threatening situation;
• A young person is being abused;
• Inaction could lead to themselves or someone else being harmed.
(See Door 84’s Confidentiality and Information Sharing Policy)
It is essential that no promise of confidentiality is given when a young person is disclosing information with regard to abuse of any kind. If a referral is to be made and it is safe and appropriate to do so, the young person must be informed. As soon as any worker feels there may be cause for concern, they should begin to consult with their line manager who in turn will consult with Team leader/ manager. It may be that official procedures are instigated; the role of the youth worker is to support the young person through this.
See Yor-ok Prevention and Safeguarding route maps for more information.
Responding to someone who is intoxicated but conscious
• Treat as a health and safety issue;
• Deal with the situation calmly. It is difficult to communicate with someone who is intoxicated, it is unlikely to be a good time to ask them questions;
• Do not leave the person alone;
• Take the young person to a quiet ,well ventilated room;
• Ensure that the young person is taken home by a responsible person;
• If there is any doubt about the welfare of the young person, an ambulance should be called.
• Follow Young Groves incident report procedures
Responding in an emergency
This is a situation where someone has collapsed or lost consciousness due to substance use:
• Do not panic. Do not leave the person alone, summon help from a member of staff with first aid training
• If breathing put the young person in the in recovery position.
• Call an ambulance
• If not breathing, perform CPR ask someone to call an ambulance.
• Once breathing is established, put the young person in the recovery position
• Inform parents /guardians of the situation
• Arrange for adult to go to hospital with the young person
• Follow the Young Groves incident report procedures.
Drugs education within the Young Groves
“Drug education should enable young people to develop their knowledge, skills, attitudes and understanding about drugs and appreciate the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, relating to their own and others actions” (Drugs: Guidance for SchoolsDfes2004)
The main aims of drug and substance misuse education within the Young Groves is to:
• Enable each young person to develop confidence and self esteem;
• Raise young people’s awareness of drugs and substances so that they can make informed choices with regard to their own substance use;
• Encourage a healthy respect for drugs and be aware of the effects on themselves as individuals and the wider society;
• Enable young people to explore their own and others feelings, attitudes and values towards drugs and drugs issues.
Accept your limitations
It is important that we know our limits and boundaries to our work. If there are any areas that you are unsure about contact your Manager.
Information about agencies national and local working in this area can be found on the Yor-Ok service directory. This policy is here to support you; it exists to safeguard you; Door 84 staff and the Young People you work with.
• Young People’s Services – Substance Misuse Policy
• Annual report 2004:the state of the drugs problem in the European union and Norway, European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction
• Misuse of Drugs Act 1971
• The Drugs Bill 2005
• Drugs: Guidance for Schools, DfES 2004
• Working With Young People. The children’s Legal Centre 2005
• Door 84’s Safe Guarding
• Door 84’s Confidentiality and Information Sharing
• Door 84’s Health and Safety