Thursday 18 February 2010

Bribing Addicts to Meet Targets

You know that feeling you get when you turn on the news or open a paper and think to yourself, is it just me or is the country gone mad? Well, I get that feeling all the time at work but I mostly bite my lip as to speak too freely wouldn't be conducive to receiving my paycheck at the end of the month. Hence, the writing of this blog.

I often tell myself that I have experienced the apogee of inane decision-making what with seeing young offenders rewarded with DJ courses, trips to stately homes and film making projects. If this worked I'd be all for it, but it doesn't just examine youth re-offending rates.

However, I think I can top all the nonsense I've seen up to date with this current beauty from our local county council which you and I are funding through our council tax. Our walls are adorned with posters announcing a new initiative in tackling drug and alcohol problems amongst youth throughout the county. Personally, I'm just delighted my money gets to make such a difference...if only.

The council in their infinite wisdom have decided to consult young drug users, alcohol dependents and addicts in how they can shape support services to tailor to their needs in abstaining from or managing their addictions. The fact that these people are failing to abstain from their various dependencies would suggest to me that they haven't the foggiest idea about how to remain drug free. It's akin to asking someone in a padded cell for tips on maintaining your mental health.

However,in order to entice members of the opiate classes, weed freaks and aspiring Rab C. Nesbitt impersonators, as well as all other imbibers of various illicit substances, the council are laying on a few bribes. They would probably use a different word for bribe but a ten year old who hasn't been inculcated in public sector Newspeak would be able to discern giving ten pounds in cash to our chemically enhanced residents as exactly that which it clearly is. There will also be refreshments laid on. To refresh the people they hope to attract to this meeting they will need more than a few glasses of coke or a cup of tea. I'd suggest being incarcerated in a rehab for at least two months. They will also be reimbursed their travel costs. If they have kids, you can be guranteed many of them do, some of whom will no doubt be in care, but for those who are not childcare costs for the day will be covered.

Now, call me a cynic but when I read about bribing members of the underclass in order to ascertain their views I smell the scent of performance targets. Why? You may ask. Well, we in Supported Housing have our own targets, (the QAFS. see earlier posts) one of which is consulting residents about various aspects of the project. One of the problems though is that most residents don't want to be consulted they just want to be left on their own in their rooms staring blankly at TV screens, knocking each other up, spreading chlamydia and avoiding any contact with reality. To get them out of their rooms and to hear their insane ideas we use fast food, cash incentives and sugary fizzy drinks. It always works. I'd put good money, if I earned it, that the Drug and Alcohol action team are using a similar tactic. Just like us their jobs depend on it. If they could get away with giving them drugs or alcohol to get them to the meeting then I have no doubt they'd be tempted. If you think about it they have done just that. What do you think all those junkies, potheads, pill poppers and alco-teens are going to spend that ten quid on? Hazard a guess go on.

Can the Drug and Alcohol team be that naive and stupid? Believe me I regularly encounter people in this industry who are that thick and worse. If you pay circus wages you will often attract clowns. However, it is just as possible that in the interests of meeting performance targets the judicious decision was discarded in favour of the expedient.