A PROBATION hostel in Blackburn has been held up as a beacon for professionals looking to deal with the problems associated with illicit drugs.

Public Health England (PHE) has drawn up guidelines for NHS and frontline criminal justice staff, as part of their All Our Health policy.

And Haworth House, in St Peter Street, which offers 12 weeks of accommodation and support for men leaving prison who are deemed to be 'high risk' and remain under the care of the National Probation Service.

Their experiences now form part of an online guide for probation healthcare workers, drawn up by researchers from Lincoln University and the Royal Holloway University.

A PHE spokesman said: "Support for people moving into the hostel begins well before release, through 'pre-engagement' appointments by phone or on Skype."

Health chiefs say hostel staff then work on building up relationships with incoming residents, which is said to focus on what people are interested in and are good at.

He added: "These early conversations are also an opportunity to talk about people’s current and former drug use, including any substitute medication they might be on, and begin to explore how they feel about any current drug use and what changes they would like to make to it."

Staff carry out an induction to the hostel, offering suitable advice and possible referrals to in-house, primary care or specialist drug treatment services.

The hostel sparked controversy in 2006 when the Lancashire Telegraph revealed that sex offenders were being treated there, just a short distance from a children's play group and primary school.

Haworth forms part of a network of approved premises in East Lancashire, alongside Highfield House, in Lydia Street, Accrington.