Boscombe drug clinics 'not root of social problems'

Boscombe seafront
Image caption Treatment services say Boscombe's social problems should not be blamed on drug users

Drug and alcohol rehabilitation services in Dorset say addicts and treatment providers are being used as a scapegoat for a town's problems.

Bournemouth Borough Council said there were 59 services in Boscombe for people with addictions and it wanted to cut that figure.

It fears the concentration of services is linked to social problems there.

But organisations involved in helping addicts say Boscombe's problems existed before any treatment centres opened.

At a meeting in October, Bournemouth Borough Council and Dorset Police said there were about 60 drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities in Boscombe - a claim rejected by local service providers.

'Misleading figures'

The council's head of community regeneration Sue Bickler said: "We will do all we can to reduce this concentration of services."

The council has since confirmed there are only two treatment centres in Boscombe and the remaining "services" are accommodation - some of which is registered supported housing - but the figure also includes bedsits where addicts and other vulnerable people live.

One of the rehabilitation centres, Providence Projects, said the council's figures were misleading and could lead people to believe there were dozens of drug clinics in the town.

Treatment director Paul Spanjar said: "That figure includes every house that might accommodate people with learning disabilities, mental health issues and there might be just one person in there with an addiction.

"Bournemouth is really lucky inasmuch as three of the longest-established and most well-run centres in the country are here - it is something Bournemouth should be proud of.

"There's a huge drug problem in Boscombe, but an even bigger alcohol problem - and there was even before any rehab clinic was here.

'Changes required'

"The bottom line is they are looking for a scapegoat in drug addicts but Boscombe's problems are far deeper."

Ms Bickler denied the council was looking for a scapegoat.

She said: "The council and its partners do believe the concentration of services in one area is problematic, however, the fundamental changes required in the area relate to housing and the high concentration of single-unit, private rented accommodation."

Street Scene runs two supported housing projects for addicts in Boscombe, along with three residential treatment centres elsewhere in Bournemouth and Southampton.

Director Patrick Gormley said: "Like any seaside town, the drug problem was here long before the treatment centres.

"Boscombe has been known for years as a place of social need. There is the occasional person who drops out of treatment and doesn't go back where they came from.

"I think the problem is with houses of multiple occupation cashing in on this."

Bournemouth Borough Council said it had drawn up a list of accommodation in the area and services were being asked to sign up to a code of conduct before the end of the financial year.

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