HL Deb 03 December 2002 vol 641 cc90-2WA
Lord Hughes of Woodside

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When they intend to publish their Updated Drug Strategy. [HL400]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton

All controlled drugs are harmful and will remain illegal. Drug misuse is the biggest challenge society faces. It damages the health and life chances of individuals. It undermines family life, turns law-abiding citizens into thieves and erodes communities. It is essential that we educate the young about the dangers of drugs, prevent drug misuse, tackle the dealers to reduce the prevalence of drugs on the streets and reduce the harm drugs cause.

To address this, the Government have published their Updated Drug Strategy developed to take account of new evidence of what works and to focus on delivery.

In 1998 the first cross-cutting strategy was introduced to tackle drug trafficking, supply and misuse. This update builds on the foundations laid and the lessons learnt. We must concentrate on the most dangerous drugs, the most damaged communities and the individuals whose addiction and chaotic lifestyles are the most harmful, both to themselves and others. Education, prevention, enforcement, treatment and harm minimisation are our most powerful tools.

Setting out a range of policies and interventions, the Updated Drug Strategy provides:

A tougher focus on Class A drugs;

A stronger focus on education, enforcement and treatment to prevent and tackle problematic drug use;

More resources—direct annual expenditure for tackling drugs will rise from £1,026 million in this financial year to £1,244 million in the next financial year, £1,344 million in the year starting April 2004 to a total annual spend of nearly £1.5 billion in the year starting April 2005—an increase of 44 per cent;

A major new education campaign to be launched in Spring 2003 to drive home the risks of drug misuse. More support for parents, carers and families so they can easily access advice, help, counselling and mutual support;

More help for the young people most at risk of developing drug problems through increased outreach and community treatment and an extension of drug testing and referrals to treatment and care via the youth justice system so that by 2006, we are able to support 40,000 to 50,000 vulnerable young people a year;

Strengthened enforcement—including new cross-regional police teams to tackle middle markets and targeted policing to crack down on crack;

A major expansion of services to refer people into treatment via the criminal justice system. We will use every opportunity from arrest, to court and sentence to identify drug-misusing offenders and engage them in treatment. Starting from next year in the highest crime areas with the worst drug problems we will roll out a comprehensive end-to-end approach. This will ensure that every drug-addicted offender is identified through drug testing at the point of arrest and charge and given the choice at their bail hearing of entering treatment rather than entering custody. All this is backed up by extra resources for arrest referral, drug treatment and testing orders, treatment in prison and youth offending institutes and for post-release treatment and support for those leaving custody;

An expansion of treatment services to ensure access is available when needed and is tailored to individual need, including residential treatment. Improved treatment for crack and cocaine users and heroin prescribing properly supervised for all those who would clinically benefit from it. By 2008, we will have developed the capacity to treat 200,000 problematic drug users each year. Funding for treatment services, including prisons, will increase by £45 million in the next financial year, £54 million for the year starting from April 2004 and £115 million from April 2005. This will be boosted by treatment funding associated with drug treatment and testing orders of nearly £10 million in the next financial year, £12 million in the year starting from April 2004 and £16 million from April 2005—bringing the total direct annual spend on treatment up to £589 million by 2005;

New aftercare and throughcare services to help those leaving prison or treatment remain free from drugs;

Strengthened capacity to deliver first in the areas with the greatest problems and improved services in those areas most affected by crack use; and

Revised targets which are challenging but achievable.

Copies of Updated Drug Strategy 2002 have been placed in the Library. It is also available on the web at http://www.drugs.gov.uk

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