UK authorities are taking steps to tackle drug misuse, including the creation of a new drugs unit to help end illegal drug-related illnesses and deaths. Other initiatives have also been launched to tackle county lines gangs, with tougher and targeted policing expected.
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The government has outlined plans to reduce drug misuse poisoning deaths, which have increased nearly 80% since 2012. In particular, heroin deaths have doubled, and there has been a notable rise in deaths caused by cocaine. Drug-related deaths – and drug addiction – place a greater strain on society, leading to homelessness and demands on children’s social care.
What’s being done?
Various measures are set to be implemented, including the formation of a new unit called the Joint Combating Drugs Unit. This will bring together different government departments to tackle drug misuse across the country. A new Office for Health Promotion has also been created. This aims to ‘spearhead efforts to level up society’, with £80 million having been invested in drug treatment funding.
But that’s not all. Local authorities are being given more money to spend on public health services, including drug and alcohol treatment. Funding will also be doubled for law enforcement in tackling county lines gangs.
Lastly, a pilot scheme called Project ADDER, will run for three years in the five areas with the highest rates of drug misuse. These are Blackpool, Hastings, Middlesbrough, Norwich and Swansea Bay. ADDER stands for Addiction, Diversion, Disruption, Enforcement and Recovery. The police, local councils and health services will work together as part of an intensive approach to tackle drug misuse. Tougher and more targeted policing will be seen, along with enhanced treatment and recovery services.
Independent Review of Drugs
These measures come following the publication of Professor Dame Carol Black’s Independent Review of Drugs. In the second part of her report, she outlined 32 recommendations for the government to help overcome the harm caused by drugs. The recommendations include:
- A reform of central leadership to set clear government targets through a new unit
- Local authorities to be required to fund drug treatment in the community using the increase in funding
- The introduction of a national Commissioning Quality Standard to make sure comprehensive treatment services are available
- Restoring the morale of the workforce to provide a higher quality service, to include recruitment of more staff
- A new strategy to be commissioned to increase the number of professionally qualified drug treatment staff
- An action plan to improve mental health treatment of those people with drug dependence
- Action to divert drug users from the criminal justice system into treatment
- Making sure all prison leavers have ID and a bank account
- Ensuring prisoners with drug dependence can access treatment in the community after release
Solicitors – England and Wales
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