Drug Strategy Annual Report published
The Government presented its first Annual Report on delivery of the ten year ‘Harm to Hope’ strategy to Parliament on 20 July, with the Policing Minister reaffirming that delivery of the strategy is one of the Government’s ‘top priorities’.
David Sidwick, APCC Joint Lead for Addictions and Substance Misuse, welcomed the Report:
“With half of homicides and half of acquisitive crimes linked to drug misuse, the implementation of this strategy is a top priority for Police and Crime Commissioners, with many PCCs leading the work of their local Combatting Drugs Partnerships. We applaud the energy, ambition and commitment with which Government is tackling this huge issue for our communities, which is providing a once in a generation chance to turn the tide.
“The evidence shows that progress has been made across all three strands of the strategy: including the closure of 1,300 County Lines; an additional £96 million invested in drug treatment and recovery; the expansion of drug testing on arrest to cannabis and other illegal gateway drugs and the development of Out of Court Disposals for possession offences.
“We need to ensure that where people are using drugs like cannabis and MDMA supplied through violent and exploitative drug markets they face meaningful consequences and are being educated and informed about the potential harms. PCCs and police forces know that it’s not just heroin and crack cocaine that cause serious problems in their communities, and it’s good to see this is finally being recognised nationally.”
Joy Allen, APCC Joint Lead for Substance Misuse, commented:
“Many offenders commit crimes as a means of supporting addictions – whether that is to illegal drugs, alcohol or problem gambling. The criminal justice system has a key role to play in ensuring they are challenged and supported to address these dependencies, get their lives back on track and stop offending.
“We welcome the 8% increase in referrals into treatment from the criminal justice system and the 4.5% rise in the number of prison leavers who continue their treatment post-release. This is a good start, but we need to build on it – too many people are still stuck in a cycle of addiction and offending, and too many who start to address drug dependencies in prison are not continuing that journey on release.
“We welcome the focus on this issue, including the investment in new health and justice partnership co-ordinators in our probation services. As PCCs we are uniquely well-placed to join up criminal justice services and link them into health and other partners – for example, as chairs of local Criminal Justice Boards.”