A former cocaine addict and police officer will teach serving officers on how to interact with people fighting addiction and mental health issues.

Philip Wane, an administrator for the communication system Neighbourhood Watch & OWL, is teaming up with Three Rivers’ Sergeant Stephen Bell and former Metropolitan Police officer and cocaine addict, Nick Conn, for the two-hour workshops.

The workshops consist of a question-and-answer to get officers thinking about how they view those with mental health issues and addictions.

Mr Conn will help illustrate the issues of addiction with a video explaining what his life was like at the height of his cocaine addiction and the journey he took to overcome it.

Mr Waine, who has also been a qualified psychotherapist since 2010, said: “Nick’s story is one that we find really resonates with officers because he has seen it from both sides. He’s worn the uniform, but he’s also seen the world through an addict’s eyes.

“Ultimately, we want to be equipping officers with the information they need to help those who are struggling. We need them to be aware of the correct referrals to make in order for those vulnerable people to recover and live a happier, healthier life.”

The two-way conversation encouraged through the question-and-answer workshop is believed to challenge officers’ perceptions of addiction and mental health.

Sgt Bell said: “I have been in the job for 20 years and in that time, I have seen some exchanges between officers and those with mental health and drug addiction issues that could have definitely been more positive.

“New recruits only get 16 week’s training and while they cover as much as they can, Phil and I feel there is more to be done around people who we come into contact with on a regular basis that are battling addiction and mental health issues.”

The workshops have been provided to Watford and Three Rivers officers as part of their regular training programme, with the most recent being delivered on Wednesday (August 7).