A police proposal to hand out free heroin to addicts has provoked a huge response from readers.
Durham’s Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg says the move could help reduce crime and save money and lives.
The commissioner is hoping the initiative would would slash acquisitive crime, such as thefts, as addicts will no longer have to pay illegal dealers.
Mr Hogg argued it would also help health authorities to work with addicts to help them beat their addiction - saving lives.
He said: “The aim would be to enable people who have become addicted to heroin to follow a programme that would stabilise their addiction in a controlled environment, and reduce their dependency on heroin until they stop taking it.
“They would also follow a conventional drug addict support programme.”
The story saw dozens of readers take to the Echo’s Facebook page to have their say, with most arguing it would be a bad move.
A poll on the Echo website which was taken by more than 220 readers found that 68% were against the idea.
Kaye Crawshaw wrote: “Don’t think it will work as the “free” doses probably won’t be enough for an addict, so will need to get more elsewhere.”
Samie Boddy said: “How about rewarding hard working people some of which have an illness but still get out of bed everyday to earn an honest living.”
Amy L Barker’s response to the idea was: “No it’s showing the younger generation ah it’s OK to be heroin addict cos it’s free.”
Sheila Kendall wrote: “Once again no thought gone into this decision, let’s reward people who have a death wish.”
Denise Craig added: “It’s not the answer for addicts. Only abstinence works!”
Billy Mitchell wrote: “Stupidest thing I’ve read this week.”
Some readers however did support Mr Hogg’s approach.
Craig Stott wrote: “I’m all for this not only will in their area reduce crimes but people with the addiction can go get safe doses and with that, treatment should they choose too, on top of that should it be successful in both reducing crimes committed as well as potentially bringing people of it.”
Stephen Bushy Bamberough said: “He’s using a radical yet sensible approach to a problem that hasnt been solved with the methods they’ve used.”
Stephen Kennedy added: “Yes. It works and reduces crime for the rest of us.”
And Pete West said: “It will see crime drop, less cost to the NHS and more police resources to tackle serious crime, it’s about time we acted like adults about this and end the costly fake war on drugs.”