Kyiv 2021 - The report, written by Andrey Saladovnikov, International Consultant of UNODC, in close cooperation with the Regional Programme Office for Eastern Europe, summarizes the results of pilot police referral schemes for people who use drugs and people released from prisons in four countries (Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan) and points out recommendations for establishing a sustainable harm reduction mechanisms based on the partnership between police, healthcare institutions, and civil society organizations. The review identifies the key barriers at the national and regional levels that inhibit communication between police and civil society.
A police referral scheme is an algorithm that allows police to offer to the people from key populations (KP) participation in a program of health, social, harm reduction services and HIV/HCV/TB prevention and treatment, instead of punishment and detention. The scheme aims to reduce the number of offenses and provide an alternative to prosecution. In another version, the scheme allows persons released from the prison facilities to receive necessary medical, social or legal assistance to ensure the continuity of services and prevent the recurrence of criminal behavior.
In recent decades, the cooperation development in the implementation of referral schemes and active involvement of the government partners have become an influential factor for HIV prevention and protection of KP against negative criminal impact. Despite many studies in this area, most of the sources do not contain an analysis of the regional referral schemes features that take into account the activities of law enforcement officers. This is especially true for the Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) region, where the experience of interaction between law enforcement agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on referral schemes remains insufficiently investigated.
The goal of the report is to highlight the results of the existing pilot police referral schemes for people who use drugs and people released from prisons in Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine and Kazakstan and develop recommendations for the UNODC’ and partners’ future activities in these countries and on the global level too. UNODC aims to improve collaboration for expanding access to referral schemes and HIV prevention services provided to the key populations (KP), including people who use drugs (PWUD), sex workers (SW), men having sex with men (MSM), and transgender people (TG).
Including law enforcement officials into the system preventing HIV among the representatives of people who use drugs, sex workers, MSM, transgender people and people in prisons, and a multistakeholder interaction and collaboration are essential steps for an efficient and successful national HIV response. These officials are in direct contact with the representatives and can decide whether to initiate a harm reduction program. In turn, successful implementation of efficient prevention actions among KP will prevent the spread of the HIV epidemic. Additionally, reconsidering public healthcare and safety approaches and the relations between the law enforcement authorities and civil society will maximize the available resources, employment, and subdivision of responsibility of those involved to establish an improved interaction model. Further recommendations include stronger involvement of NGOs in national anti-drug policy development and key governmental sectors, improvement of anti-drug legislation and alignment with international standards and evidence-based and human-rights centered approaches. Moreover, capacity building activities in the form of developing and conducting trainings for LE and governmental officials, developing methodological recommendations and instructions for LE on harm reduction approach, are all essential in sensitizing the key national stakeholders for adequate and successful HIV response.
Full report: here