One hundred police officers in Hertfordshire will be equipped with a nasal spray which could prevent death in the event of a drugs overdose.

Officers in Stevenage, Welwyn Hatfield, Dacorum and Watford have received training to use nasal naloxone spray which can temporarily reverse the effects of opioids, such as heroin and fentanyl.

The trial - which will last for six months - follows soaring drug crime in the East of England and London, with the number of police-recorded drug crime rising by 38.2pc in the East and 44.7pc in the capital between 2018/19 and 2020/21.

Temporary Chief Inspector Jason Keane is overseeing the nasal spray trial for Hertfordshire Constabulary, which will see the 100 officers - comprising intervention, safer neighbourhood, Scorpion and offender management staff - carry the spray with them while they are on duty.

T/Ch Insp Keane said: "These small nasal sprays are just another tool in our trauma kit to help us when responding to an emergency incident and in cases where we arrive at the scene before the ambulance service.

"The reversal effects are temporary so do not negate the requirement for an ambulance as further medical treatment will be required.

"The ambulance service will also continue to provide their highest level of response to these types of incidents.

"Reassuringly there are no side effects if the nasal spray is administered to someone who officers believe is suffering an opiate overdose, but it later transpires is experiencing a different medical condition."

Drug crime is rising in the region, although the number of police-recorded drug crimes is stable in Hertfordshire.

In 2018/19, Hertfordshire Constabulary recorded 3,082 drug offences compared with 3,038 in 2020/21 - a drop of around one per cent.

In the East, the 38.2pc rise works out at 18,983 recorded offences in 2020/21 compared with 13,739 in 2018/19. Hertfordshire's neighbouring county of Essex recorded the highest rise in the region - of 76.7pc, or 7,261 offences in 2020/21 compared with 4,111 two years beforehand.

London's drug crime totals rose from 38,250 to 55,332 across the period.

Nasal spray training for officers was provided by the Change Grow Live charity.

Trudy Sealy, of Spectrum CGL in Hertfordshire, said: "If this pilot saves one life we have achieved our goal."

She added: "Working in partnership with Hertfordshire Constabulary and Hertfordshire County Council in this ground-breaking project has been fantastic.

"To raise awareness around opiate overdose resulting in the availability of nasal naloxone on the streets of Hertfordshire with our first responders is a huge step forward."