Drug tragedies ‘could be better prevented’

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Safeguards which could prevent tragedies such as the death of Belper toddler Riley Pettipierre have been proposed by a national drugs charity.

A report released by Adfam analysed 20 Serious Case Reviews in England and Wales, including one into the death of two-year-old Riley, who died at his home in Belper in 2012 after he drank his mother’s methadone, a heroin substitute.

Adfam said their research revealed that methadone had caused the deaths of 15 very young children in the past 10 years. It called for improved training for drug services, pharmacies, GPs and social workers .

It also said better national data collection was needed on the number of parents allowed to take home these medicines and the number of children admitted to hospital after swallowing them.

Vivienne Evans, chief executive of the charity, said: “We need a more proactive and nationally co-ordinated plan to tackle these risks, rather than waiting for every area in the country to experience a tragedy before anyone takes action.”

Riley’s parents, Sally Dent and Shaun Binfield, of Kilbourne Road, were jailed last year after being convicted of his manslaughter.