Feb 12, 2024

Prague 5 to Deploy Outreach Workers to Address Concerns About Drug Users

Residents of Prague 5 have raised concerns about the presence of drug users in certain areas. In response, the district plans to deploy trained outreach workers starting in April to address potential issues and offer support.

Prague 5 Mayor Radka Šimková (Praha Sobě) announced the initiative, highlighting the need for “professionals with the necessary training to communicate with drug users, de-escalate tense situations, and assess the need for further intervention, such as medical attention or social services.”

The district will issue a tender seeking organizations with relevant experience to provide at least two workers, with the possibility for more depending on proposals.

The program will initially focus on Na Skalce Park in Smíchov and Husovy Sady in Košíře, areas identified as experiencing an increased presence of drug users. However, the initiative remains flexible, with Šimková stating,

“We have conditions that allow us to change locations as needed to address emerging concerns.” Residents of Barrandov have also recently voiced concerns, and the program may expand to include their community.

Beyond engaging with drug users and offering support, the outreach workers will also monitor public order and address cleanliness concerns. Depending on their training, they may alert authorities to discarded needles and syringes or dispose of them safely themselves.

The initiative comes amid ongoing discussions about Prague’s broader approach to drug use.

READ ALSO:   Prague Metro to Run More Frequently in the Evenings

Last year, Prague 5 closed a contact center for drug users on Mahenova Street, leaving only the Sananim center on Na Skalce Street and the controversial substitution treatment clinic on Bieblova Street operational in the district.

Experts have long emphasized the importance of accessible and evenly distributed contact centers offering harm reduction services, including injection equipment exchange and medical or psychological help. Since 2009, several such centers in Prague have closed, leaving only two operational.

However, there is hope for change. The current city hall coalition has appointed former mayor and addiction specialist Pavel Bem (ODS) to lead the commission on tackling drug-related challenges, and he is actively seeking new locations to expand the network and improve accessibility across the city.

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