PCCs encourage closer partnership working to tackle drug misuse
Earlier today (15 June), a panel of PCCs appeared before the Home Affairs Select Committee where they stressed the importance of partnership working and evidence-based learning to tackle drug misuse and reduce harm.
Dorset PCC David Sidwick, North Wales PCC Andy Dunbobbin and North Yorkshire PFCC Zoe Metcalfe highlighted the need for close partnership working with other agencies to develop a comprehensive response to tackle drugs misuse, each citing how they have worked with health, local government and education partners to address local challenges.
David Sidwick, who is also the APCC’s Joint Lead for Addictions and Substance Misuse, highlighted the success of Project ADDER in the 13 areas where it is currently in operation. He called for national rollout of the project to ensure it benefits the areas that need it most, including Dorset, his own force area:
"Where funding has occurred from the Project ADDER pilots, PCCs have demonstrated the effectiveness of bringing it together for enforcement, treatment and recovery."
"Bournemouth is listed in the Government’s drug strategy as having the ninth highest opioid and crack use…but unfortunately, we have not received ADDER funding, VRU funding, or included in the first tranche of From Harm to Hope.
"In Dorset, what we are doing is trying to mirror Project ADDER as far as we can with the resources that we have."
The PCCs were also questioned on recreational drug use, diversionary schemes and harm reduction programmes.
North Wales PCC Andy Dunbobbin highlighted a collaboration with Housing First that provides people with drug and alcohol problems with housing, as an example of successful partnership working with multiple agencies in Wales.
North Yorkshire PFCC Zoe Metcalfe stressed the value of collaborative working and sharing best practice to understand the evidence base for various schemes.
She voiced support for allowing local areas the flexibility to implement schemes that work best for the community rather than a 'one-size fits all' approach, and that she would like to see the PCC 'take more of an effective leadership role'.
Finally, when asked about the merits of decriminalising cannabis, as has been seen in other countries, Dorset PCC David Sidwick went on to state his serious misgivings. He called for more education to people on the health risks and expressed concerns about the impact it could have on law enforcement.