DRUG STRATEGY 2010: REVIEW 2012
The government has published a review of the Drug Strategy it launched a year and a half ago. What does it think it has accomplished? And what are its priorities for the next 12 months? We summarise its views for readers.
Download AddictionToday137-Drug policy review 2012
“In December 2010 we launched our new Drug Strategy. We committed to reduce the demand for illicit drugs, to reduce their supply and, most importantly, to put recovery at the heart of our efforts. The new strategy signalled a fundamental shift in the approach to drug treatment, with the aspiration that all who need it should be helped to lead drug-free lives. Now, more than one year on, this document reviews our progress in meeting these commitments and sets out our priorities for the next 12 months,” writes Home secretary Theresa May (pictured above) in the Review’s foreword.
THE GOVERNMENT’S VIEW OF RECOVERY PROGRESS
“Our aim is to support people to achieve lives free from drug and alcohol dependence. Drug treatment outcomes are improving with an 18% increase in the number of people leaving treatment free of dependence in 2010-11. Also, the strategy has maintained quick access to treatment with the average wait being only five days. These are promising results and we have put in place the building blocks for further success.
To support the drive to recovery from addiction, last year we:
o worked with treatment professionals to change the ambition for the recovery system to one where being drug free is now the clear end goal
o changed the incentives for treatment providers, developing new and innovative payment by results pilots for drug and alcohol in eight areas
o developed our evidence base and advice on recovery, building a new relationship with the treatment sector through the Recovery Partnership and an expert group chaired by John Strang of the National Addiction Centre
o commissioned the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to provide advice on how people can best be supported to recover from dependence on drugs or alcohol through a Recovery Committee
o put in place the building blocks to transform the commissioning and delivery of treatment and recovery services. The introduction of Public Health England in April 2013 and Police and Crime Commissioners in November this year will offer new opportunities for joint working to drive local health improvements
supported the treatment workforce. The Substance Misuse Skills Consortium brought together employers and professional groups to develop a suite of evidence-based tools to invest in and develop the skills of the 10,000 strong treatment workforce
o continued to tackle drug misuse in prisons and by offenders. We launched five new Recovery Wings in prisons, invested in Integrated Offender Management to support recovery from prison back into the community and managed nearly 63,000 Class A drug users in 2010-11 through the Drug Intervention Programme, estimated to have prevented up to 680,000 crimes
o worked to improve employment support for those in recovery. The Jobcentre Plus Offer enables staff to recognise the needs of benefit claimants in recovery and reflect them in their Jobseeker’s Agreement, while the national Work Programme gives providers the freedom to offer more personalised support and provides immediate access for those leaving prison.”
! Addiction Today cautions against unquestioning acceptance of some of the Review’s claims on recovery progress – for example, how targets can be achieved when “recovery” is undefined, and when neither Payment by Result nor Public Health outcomes have a goal of freedom from all drugs and thus enable cross-addiction and avoid addressing causes, and when so-called representative groups consist of state-dependent (for their revenue) companies and individuals. But we disseminate the claims, so that readers understand the latest government messages and views.
FUTURE RECOVERY PLANS
The Review continues to say that government will “continue to support people’s recovery from dependence, the treatment sector and local commissioners” by:
~ taking recovery beyond the treatment system with employers, landlords, educational establishments, social services and others who can impact on the success of recovery
~ challenging stigma linked with dependence and that can act as a barrier to successful recovery
~ supporting commissioners to grasp the opportunity of joined-up recovery services as the budgets from central government are pooled and devolved to local, accountable decision makers
~ supporting funding models that incentivise the best outcomes for both people in treatment and wider society, “such as Payment by Results”
~ championing recovery by recognising the achievements of people that have turned their lives round and use their enthusiasm and inspiration to help turn round the lives of others.
PROGRESS ON REDUCING DEMAND
"Dealing with the symptoms of drug use is not enough; we must also address the risk factors that lead to substance misuse," the Review continues. "We have introduced measures which together have a positive impact on the life chances of vulnerable groups, help to divert them away from risky behaviours such as drug use and break intergenerational cycles of dependence. We must also ensure that drug-dependent adults committing crimes are diverted into treatment at the earliest possible opportunity. We have:
o invested in programmes of targeted prevention to reduce risk factors for substance misuse and given local authorities the power and freedom to make funding decisions that meet local needs by introducing the Early Intervention Grant, which pools various smaller grants
o developed the Drug Interventions Programme to give local areas more flexibility in how they drug test offenders to encourage more into treatment
o relaunched the Frank service [but see CanSS]
o with the Association of Chief Police Officers, published revised advice for schools on managing drugs
and drug-related incidents
o committed to turn round by 2015 the lives of 120,000 of the country’s most troubled families, many with substance-misuse problems. £448million is available for this over the next three years
o continued to invest in programmes such as Family Nurse Partnerships, Children’s Centres
introduced educational reforms that address risk factors
o consulted on the Personal, Social, Health and Economic education review to raise the quality of teaching and ensure that young people have knowledge and skills to lead their lives healthily."
FUTURE DEMAND REDUCTION
Top priorities to reduce the demand for controlled drugs and new psychoactive substances – NPS – over the next year will be to continue the work described above. There will also be support to develop evidence-based solutions by local partners on what works in prevention, to develop a new database of programmes and services for young people which includes information on their effectiveness, and to develop a measure of young people’s drug and alcohol use at a local level.
PROGRESS ON RESTRICTING SUPPLY
"Police and other agencies disrupt the drugs trade by targeting activity along the entire supply chain, from organised crime groups that import drugs from source to dealers who sell drugs in our communities," the Review states. "The emergence of NPSs or so-called “legal highs” requires us to respond quickly and flexibly. We have taken significant legislative steps to restrict the supply and developed an NPS Action Plan. Since the Drug Strategy was published, we:
~ introduced a Temporary Class Drug Order that bans newly identified harmful drugs in days and a new Forensic Early Warning System that enables the identification of a new substance within hours of its emergence
~ empowered communities to drive effective policing that addresses their local needs. Thanks to street-level crime maps on the ‘police.uk’ website, you can see where offences take place, including drug supply and possession offences. The introduction of elected Police and Crime Commissioners later this year will give democratic accountability alongside this transparency
~ published the first comprehensive organised crime strategy: www.homeoffice.gov.uk/crime/organised-crime-strategy
~ built the foundations of the new National Crime Agency, to be operational in 2013
~ made the illegal drugs trade less lucrative by taking away the profits of drug traffickers
~ built strong, effective working relationships with international partners and led by building international consensus on our approach to NPS, such as sponsoring a 2012 UN resolution. We share intelligence and work closely with source and transit countries to bolster their capacity to tackle drug trafficking affecting the UK."
FUTURE SUPPLY REDUCTION
The Review predicts that the UK will:
o introduce Police and Crime Commissioners with elections across England and Wales in November 2012; they will be guided through the Strategic Policing Requirement
o take a more robust approach to tackle drug driving, including the development of a new drug driving offence and the approval of equipment to detect drivers who have taken illicit drugs
o renew efforts to disrupt the trafficking of drugs into prisons and the activity of organised criminals coordinating the trafficking of drugs from prisons. We will improve the range, quality and security of the intelligence collated about prisoners and their criminal associates. We will increase our signal-denial technology in prisons, to disrupt prisoners’ use of illicit mobile phones
o drive international collaboration through the EU to more effectively identify, investigate, prosecute and seize the assets of drug traffickers
o work with key partners across the world to build capacity in source and transit countries, such as Latin America, to tackle the trade in illicit drugs, NPS and cutting agents and prevent them entering the UK.