London

London police board backs supervised consumption sites

The London Police Services Board is throwing its support behind supervised consumption sites in order to address a growing drug problem in the city.

Part of the strategy to fight city's growing drug problem may include Indigenous-focused care

The Middlesex-London Health Unit has proposed two supervised consumption sites at 446 York Street and 241 Simcoe Street. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

The London Police Services Board is throwing its support behind supervised consumption sites in order to address a growing drug problem in the city.

The board endorsed the sites on Thursday as part of an overall strategy involving stakeholders to address "addiction, poverty, mental health and the opioid crisis."

Board member Vanessa Ambtman-Smith noted the importance of working with Indigenous populations who are also impacted by drug abuse and addiction.

"Having an Indigenous-focus within these strategies and having the recognition that sometimes in this work, we do need to be aware that there are inequities in terms of where we see support placed," she said.

Last month, more than 200 people showed up to an emergency meeting at Chippewas of the Thames First Nation after the community faced four near-fatal overdoses.

Ambtman-Smith said one in five of the city's drug users identify as Indigenous.

What does the support mean?

The board's decision comes in response to a presentation last October on the benefits of these sites.

"Having the chief and board on board is very important," said chief medical officer Dr. Chris Mackie in a health unit board meeting on the same day of the endorsement.

He noted that it was important for police to resist arresting people who want to use these types of services.

The Middlesex-London Health Unit has proposed two supervised consumption sites at 446 York Street and 241 Simcoe Street.

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