BF's SyringePatrol started December 1997.
At November 1997 we learned from the newspapers, that a used syringe with needle was found in the sandbox of a kindergarten. This was appalling news to us that someone could act so careless and brain dead and leave a used needle and syringe on a toddlers and small children's playground. At BF we discussed what could be done and we decided that BF actually could do something effective to this dangerous health hazard. We bought some safe pick up tools and safe containers - and a number of yellow uniform jackets plus a three bicycles.
All the patrolling with the SyringePatrol was voluntarily by active heroin or methadone users- a patrol job on a few hours pays a symbolic reward of a pack of cigarettes - and in weekends also a paid lunch.
In 2006 the citizens in the area of the relative open drug scene initiated a pilot project period of where the patrolling was paid 200.000 Dkr. from Copenhagen City's Cleaning Department - and from 2007 BF signed a cooperation contract and got a fixed salary on 400.000 Dkr. and the same salary in 2008. But in 2009 city only had 200.000 and in 2010 they proclaimed that they had no money to support the SyringePatrol at all.
However they still stated that they were happy with the service delivered and that they hoped we would continue the patrolling service. At BF we decided that we would continue our citizen service anyway - and not make the citizens suffer from a lousy administration and in March 2010 Copenhagen city's "Sundhedsrummet" a low threshold health project, offered us a widened cooperation that would sponsor our SyringePatrol with 150.000 Dkr. and with these money we were able to continue the service - at a 7 days and 52 weeks basis.
At 2011 we have been offered the same amount Dkr. 150.000 from Sundhedsrummet/Maendenes Hjem as funding of the SyringePatrol.
Street Patrol was a successful project that lost it's funding and stopped in 2000.
l. The name of the project, address and contact persons
Enghavevej 12, St. th.
1674 Copenhagen V.
Enghaven, phone 33 25 78 44
or Danish Drug Users Union, phone 35 36 01 50
Contact persons: Project manager Lars Steinov & Jørgen Kjær/chairman Danish Drug Users Union.
2. Objectives/target group
The purpose of the project is to establish an outreach work on street level in the centre of
Vesterbro in Copenhagen. Via outreach patrols (2-4 persons) contact has been made to the
drug users in order to give advice and guidance to the users in the illegal drug environment.
Proper injection equipment is handed out, and the members of the patrol have each a packet
of cigarette to be given away. A cup of coffee in a cafe is also what is offered as well as concrete
advising about use and misuse problems is offered, and it is possible to be referred to professional
advisors in the treatment system – also outside normal opening hour.
Vesterbro is sought by persons with and without a formal relation to Copenhagen Commune as
regards to the illegal drug sale, prostitution and other crime in the commune. Some of these are
staying in the environment, sleeping on the street etc. An important purpose is to motivate the
drug users in the environment – especially the new coming – to seek back to their home commune
and ask for the required help, whether it concerns economical, housing- or other kind of help.
3. Description of the project.
The patrols consists of selected members of the Drug Users Union, who know, both the drugs
and the environment, have contact possibilities and are respected in a way, that professionals just not are.
The outpatient department Enghaven is functioning as the professional hinterland for the outreach patrols,
which are manned according to a certain agreement. Enghaven is lending out a car and equipment among
other things like jackets, rucksacks, mobile-phones etc. to the patrols.
The patrols go about in the environment around Maria church square and the Istedgade-quarter, 2-3 times
a week on the different hours, app. 6 hours each time and can use the car as starting point as well as depot
and for conversations.
When the patrols are on the street the crew from Enghaven is functioning as back guard if immediate advising
is requested and as regards to the contacts to the social treatment system.
Immediate phone contact is created and if necessary appointments are arranged in order to
establish a treatment offer or other kind of help to the users in the environment.
The patrols are carrying easy recognized jackets and are now so well known in the street picture, as they are well
known by those policemen, that works in the area.
Both the uniformed as well as the plain-clothes policemen have knowledge of the concrete persons, who are
manning the patrols, and have in advance been notified about the purpose of their presence.
The patrols are writing dairy about the single watch with the purpose of procure a collected documentation
for the business and for the difficult available data from the illegal environment.
For the time being people work to develop special schedules, which are helping a following
edb-based way of stating.
In some of the tasks the work is based on anonymity, but also with formal statements of consent
in connection with the corporation of Enghaven and other authorities.
4. Starting up
The corporation consists of many years of knowledge and relationship of trust between the
independent institution Dag- & Døgcentret/Enghaven and The Drug Users Union.
The draft was made after careful discussions and planning of the partners, hereunder a common
study trip to London in November 1997, where people were participating in a education course
arranged by English users with experience from outreach functions in the user environments in London.
There have been held weekly meetings in whole 1998 and there have been held negotiations
with the patrols began in the environment in June 1998. There will be held certain courses for
patrol guards about ways of contact, conversation techniques and different symptoms of crisis.
The economy is based on a 3 year appropriation of the so called Big city pool funds 1998-2000,
which are obtained by Enghaven/Copenhagen Commune in the level of kr. 800.000,- a year.
A communal with finance is granted on 25% and 33% in 2nd and 3rd project year.
The budget consists of – besides different running expenses for transport, food and equipment
salary to employees on Enghaven and a fixed monthly amount for the User Union’s operation.
In the period where the patrols have been on the streets, they have been very well received.
Due to the easy recognized uniforms both the users, policemen and others have respected
the work of patrols.
Between the patrols are carrying out practical tasks like collecting of thrown-away syringes
Especially this function have been respected by the local inhabitants and shop owners and help
to strength a positive understanding of the work done by the patrols.
In the first couple of months there were referred 15-20 name given misusers to the treatment system
75% of these have on the contrary due to their personal stay in Copenhagen been attached to
other communes and counties which have arranged to establish concrete treatment offers.
A special problem have been the rather long time of handling, before treatment actually can
In these cases it has been difficult to give useful advice to the users whom have been motivated
for immediate help into treatment.
Through concrete negotiations with the involved counties and the social Lord Mayor in Copenhagen
it will be attempted to reduce waiting time, possibly by establish interim solutions.
User-aid, Vesterbro, Copenhagen.
In Copenhagen City - near the main railroad station –an open drug scene has developed in the last decade.
This scene is situated in the classical “red light district” and is today the largest drug market in Scandinavia.
Many of the customers arrive from other parts of the country and even other countries - and are not inhabitants
in the Commune of Copenhagen City. Some of them live on the streets and are still formally connected to their
home commune outside the city.
In the last 4-5 years we have had a new lawgiving in Denmark about treatment offered to drug users.
It has among other things been decided that private doctors not any more can prescribe methadone to their drug using patients.
Instead the local authorities have been responsible of prescribing the methadone and connect it to a broader offer of treatment
to the drug addicted clients. In connection to the new laws, the state have given more money to the communes to finance
new treatment possibilities.
It is the local politicians and their administration that have the responsibility of providing the institutional treatment
– and not all of them have been motivated for a development of the traditional ways of care and treatment.
Sometimes the result of this is, that people move to the big cities - especially Copenhagen - to buy drugs and to seek treatment.
The problem is however that there still exist a problem of financing treatment for people from other parts of the country.
While the authorities argue about the responsibility – the result for the clients often is :
No treatment - and a longer period of homelessness, prostitution and criminal behavior in this part of Copenhagen City.
Enghaven, among others, have an obligation to minimize drug related problems in this part
of the City, and we have built up a project called User-aid, Vesterbro, to do something for these stranded clients,
and for clients who have different difficulties in finding the right treatment. Instead of sending some social workers
up and down the streets, we have asked the User’s Union in Denmark to join a collaboration with us with the
purpose of taking contact with potential clients. We have together built up an outreach project to minimize the
problems and to make the distance from the street to a relevant treatment situation as short as possible.
We send out activist patrols from the User’s Union twice or three times a week.
They receive no payment but different costs will be paid (clothes, coffee, cigarettes etc.)
The Union receive a monthly payment – to cover a part of the Union’s normal expences.
The user activists have another possibility of accessing to the people living in the subculture
of illegal drug trafficking, because they know it better than the professionals and are more
accepted among the users in the street. The patrols wear special yellow jackets with the
user union’s logo on it, so they are recognizable to the public, to the police and other authorities.
Each activist is known and cleared by the police before joining the patrols.
In that way the activists can work free of being busted and asked questions while working.
Of course that will mean that the activists themselves cannot take part in the illegal activities in the streets after work.
The patrols make many different contacts – with the local inhabitants and shop owners,
who are often annoyed by the drug trafficking in their part of the city – and with different user groups.
They handle out clean syringes and they pick up the used ones. They have all kinds of personal contacts.
Some of the people they meet are already in treatment and they don’t want any
registration of their activities – and will of course not be registered by the patrols.
Other users are in need of different advice and will get it. The last group is the main target group of the project :
We want the inexperienced and young people among the users – who can be motivated and who wants it -
out of the streets and into care and treatment – if possible.
When the patrols have established contact with users motivated for treatment they can make contact to the
professional social workers of Enghaven with a mobile telephone and arrange a meeting, from where the
professionals take over. In average we have sent one person per week into treatment – over a period of 8 months.
The youngest were 17 and the eldest were 46 and had not been in treatment before. 1 out of 4 were female.
We collect 2 kinds of material to our evaluation process :
- after every single day in the street the patrols write a report, and
- every single person seeking treatment will be journalized and so will the process of getting the person
into the treatment institutions.
I will not speak much of the difficulties of getting people in treatment, but as I mentioned before the regional
authorities have the obligation to built up and to finance different treatment possibilities, also methadone-based
treatment clinics. About 60 % of the people we have sent into treatment until now is not inhabitants in the
Commune of Copenhagen, so we have to negotiate on behalf of the clients with a different amount of regional
offices in Denmark to succeed. The biggest problem is the waiting time – what will we advice the client to do
in the meantime ? We are seeking a possibility of starting up the treatment in Copenhagen and send a bill to
the client’s home commune.
About the collaboration we have good experience, but of course not without some minor practical difficulties.
The experienced users in the union are sharing our ambition of getting the newcomers in the drug scene into
treatment and they are willing to stand up in public and do something about it. Not all people in the subculture
approve the idea and the patrols have had to cope with some hostility from other users.
We held regular meetings with the Union to manage and monitor the patrols. We have plans of supervision
and educational programs from the professionals to the activists. We have to use our different knowledge and experience.
When we were together on a study visit in London during the planning period, we noticed the special warning in the Underground :
“Mind the Gap !” We have not forgotten this expression – but have learned to live with it and to overcome the differences.
On this conference we have listened to the user organizations and to their thinking of drug policies.
It is important that some of the users speaks up and put up demands to the responsible politicians and administrators.
But we must not forget that a great deal of users are victims of different personal and family problems and
are in a great need of help and care.
This project have shown that it is possible to build up an effective collaboration between organizations with different
points of view on different matters in this field. But nevertheless we have seen users helping users in an organized
way - supported by the professionals and financed by the public service.
That is not very common …