Creating and sustaining cooperative relationships between supervised injection services and police: A qualitative interview study of international stakeholders

Tara Marie Watson, Ahmed M. Bayoumi, Shaun Hopkins, Amy Wright, Renuka Naraine, Triti Khorasheh, Laurel Challacombe, Carol Strike (2018)

BACKGROUND: Supervised injection services (SIS) operate with special exemptions from drug law enforcement. Given the expansion of SIS and the opioid overdose crisis in numerous jurisdictions, now is a critical time to examine factors that contribute to cooperative SIS-police relationships. We sought to learn about SIS-police relationships from international jurisdictions with well-established as well as newer SIS.
METHODS: We conducted 16 semi-structured telephone interviews with SIS managers (n = 10) and police liaisons (n = 6) from 10 cities in seven different countries (Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, and Spain). All participants provided informed consent. We focused our coding and analysis on themes that emerged from the data.
RESULTS: Five key contributors to cooperative SIS-police relationships emerged from the data: early engagement and dialogues; supportive police chiefs; dedicated police liaisons; negotiated boundary agreements; and regular face-to-face contact. Most participants perceived the less formalised, on-the-ground approach to relationship-building between police and SIS adopted in their city to be working well in general. SIS managers and police participants reported a lack of formal police training on harm reduction, and some thought that training was unnecessary given the relatively positive local SIS-police relationships they reported.
CONCLUSION: Our qualitative study provides new, in-depth empirical examples of how police in varied international jurisdictions can come to accept and work cooperatively with, not against, SIS staff and clients. Investing ongoing effort in SIS-police relationships, in a manner that best suits local needs, may hold greater and more sustainable public health value than delivering specific curricula to police.

Creating and sustaining cooperative relationships between supervised injection services and police: A qualitative interview study of international stakeholders

Creating and sustaining cooperative relationships between supervised injection services and police: A qualitative interview study of international stakeholders (335)

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In partnership with:
ISFF
FUAS
Correlation Network