HC Deb 10 January 2000 vol 342 cc10-1W
Mr. Dobbin

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures his Department is taking to tackle the problems caused by drugs in local communities. [103382]

Mr. Charles Clarke

Action by the Home Office is being taken forward as part of the Government's 10-year national anti-drugs strategy "Tackling Drugs to Build a Better Britain", published in April 1998.

The Home Office is contributing to the strategy on several fronts. The Department's Drugs Prevention Advisory Service (DPAS), which succeeded the Drug Prevention Initiative on 1 April 1999, is actively promoting effective community-based drugs prevention and supporting the delivery of Aim 1 (helping young people resist drug misuse), and Aim 2 (protecting communities from drug-related anti-social and criminal behaviour) of the national strategy.

DPAS is the first Government drugs prevention organisation to cover the whole of England. It works closely with Drug Action Teams—the bodies charged with local delivery of the national strategy—to encourage and support the development of effective local prevention initiatives. DPAS also provides advice and support to community-based partnerships on how to address drug related problems within communities. In addition, it acts as a pressure point on other relevant initiatives and programmes such as community safety, crime reduction and community regeneration, to ensure that drug issues are included on those agendas.

The Home Office crime reduction strategy places a strong emphasis on breaking the link between drugs and crime. Many acquisitive crimes are connected to drug misuse. The crime reduction strategy has a particular focus on domestic burglary and vehicle crime. For example, funding is being made available to protect over two million homes in 500 high burglary areas over the next two years. Moreover, the Government introduced new legislation this month which provides for mandatory sentences of at least three years for third-time burglars. Targeted policing initiatives are also being adopted to tackle crimes like drug dealing in communities.

Other measures designed to break the link between drugs and crime include the piloting of Drug Treatment and Testing Orders under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998; the provision of £20 million to pump prime the establishment of arrest referral schemes across England and Wales to lead drug misusing offenders into treatment; and proposals to extend drug testing across the criminal justice system.