My name is Frank Hansen, former Superintendent, New South Wales Police Service, Australia. I am seeking your support for a LEAHN initiative; a Statement of Support by police for harm reduction policing. I am Chair of LEAHN’s International Police Advisory Group (IPAG). Like all other members of IPAG, I am a senior career police officer; I am now retired.
LEAHN is a group of serving and former police and other law enforcement officers who are collaborating to help prevent the spread of HIV. Our goal is to support police globally in working with communities at risk of HIV infection, and with those health and welfare agencies that work with them in HIV prevention.
This Statement of Support for Harm Reduction is an advocacy tool for use in places where there is minimal or no support for HIV prevention strategies. We have previously received support for the Statement from William Hughes CBE, former Director General of the Serious Organised Crime Agency and Professor John G. D. Grieve, former Deputy Assistant Commissioner Metropolitan Police Service in the UK as well as many other senior law enforcement officials throughout the globe.
I would like to make it quite clear that LEAHN is only seeking your endorsement for the Statement of Support for Harm Reduction, we are not asking for any financial support or additional resources.
Importantly, I would like to make it clear that LEAHN is not advocating legalization of drugs or sex work but rather is promoting policing policies and practices which are evidence-informed and underpinned by rights-based treaties and are endorsed by the United Nations.
If you agree with the premise that police should support HIV prevention please accept our invitation to endorse the Statement below by completing the required fields.
If you have questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact either myself or former Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police Mick Palmer who is also seeking your endorsement at the email address below. We feel that the engagement of police and other law enforcement officials is a critical imperative in the effective response to the HIV epidemic – an element that has for too long been neglected. LEAHN is here to promote that engagement.
Frank Hansen - Chair LEAHN International Police Advisory Group
Mick Palmer - LEAHN International Police Advisory Group
Statement of Support for Harm Reduction Policing
This Statement of Support is signed by serving and former law enforcement agents in support of policies and practices for effective policing of communities for controlling the epidemic of HIV among key populations and the broader community.
Police can play a vital role in facilitating access to life-saving services that seek to reduce the impact of HIV in their community.
By ameliorating the potential harmful impacts of the application of criminal and administrative laws in some circumstances, and reducing stigmatization and discrimination to which key populations are exposed, police can play a vital leadership role in the fight against HIV and other harmful aspects of drug use.
The role of law enforcement agencies in relation to HIV.
1. Historically, law enforcement agencies have always played an essential role in the protection and maintenance of public health. Currently, preventing the spread of HIV is a major public health challenge in which law enforcement plays a critical role. As part of the response, harm reduction policies and practices are pragmatic and comprehensive, evidence-based approaches which have proven successful in reducing the spread of HIV throughout the world (see Appendix 3).
2. The prevention and reduction of crime and enhanced community safety are important goals and benefits of harm reduction programs. Even where behaviours are unlawful, law enforcement agencies can have a significant impact in creating an environment enabling key populations to protect both themselves and the community from harm, including HIV.
3. Law enforcement agencies as key partners in implementation of these programs are in a position to facilitate access to HIV prevention and treatment services. Law enforcement agencies (particularly the police and prison services) can make a significant contribution to improving public health by actively participating in and supporting these programs.
4. Law enforcement and health sectors should work in partnership to develop and support legislation, policy and practice that facilitate the common goals of HIV prevention through enhancing community safety and crime reduction. Directly and through more appropriate allocation of law enforcement and health resources they enhance the ability of law enforcement agencies to achieve their goals of crime prevention, crime reduction and community safety.
Key principles of support
The undersigned believe the following principles are critical to policing key populations:
1. Support for interventions for HIV prevention among and from people who use drugs, sex workers, men who have sex with men and other key populations.
2. Support for all services oriented at reducing the harms associated with illicit drug use (e.g. prevention of drug overdose deaths).
3. Support for a health and rights-based approach to sex work, and all services oriented at reducing the harms experienced by sex workers (e.g. violence and the transmission of sexually transmitted infections).
4. Support for the appropriate use of administrative or criminal laws in ways which do not undermine HIV prevention programs among key populations.
5. Facilitate access to HIV/drug/sexually transmitted infection prevention, treatment and care services, including by adult and juvenile referral mechanisms.
6. Identification and application of alternatives to arrest and prosecution in appropriate cases, reducing costs to their own and other criminal justice agencies, reducing incarceration rates and divert vulnerable individuals from other unintended harmful consequences of the criminal justice system.
7. Support for comprehensive law enforcement training and education strategies, policy development and realistic performance indicators to ensure all individuals have access to essential HIV services.
Key services for support
The Statement seeks your endorsement only for the following harm reduction services identified as the ‘U.N. Comprehensive Package’*:
1. Needle and syringe programmes
2. Opioid substitution therapy and other drug dependence treatment
3. HIV testing and counselling
4. Antiretroviral therapy
5. Prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections
6. Condom programmes for people who inject drugs and their sexual partners
7. Targeted information, education and communication
8. Prevention, vaccination, diagnosis and treatment for viral hepatitis
9. Prevention, diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis
*as detailed in the ‘Technical guide for countries to set targets for universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care for injecting drug users, 2012 revision’ WHO UNODC, UNAIDS 2013
Please note that this petition is only for police and law enforcement officers to show your support!
Law Enforcement and HIV Network