APCC Addictions & Substance Misuse Leads, Durham PCC Joy Allen and Dorset PCC David Sidwick, respond to the Government's response to the Home Affairs Select Committee report on Drug Policy.
“Police and Crime Commissioners are committed to working collaboratively with partners, including health, education and criminal justice to pilot evidence-based approaches that reduce demand for drugs, prevent drug-use, widen access to treatment and recovery, while delivering strong enforcement against those accountable for supplying drugs on our streets.
“We agree that a zero-tolerance approach to drugs in all prisons is key to tackling addiction and preventing reoffending and welcome the government's commitment to tackling the use of psychoactive substances in the prison estate. This includes new measures to prevent the smuggling of illegal drugs through the mail, the deployment of next generation drug trace detection kits and, critically, the expansion of recovery support for prisoners.
“We also share the government's concerns about the serious risks posed by synthetic drugs and benzodiazepine, and about the recent rise in drug misuse deaths involving the latter. As APCC portfolio leads for Addiction and Substance Misuse, we will continue to work with public health and policing partners to respond to these threats, securing local data to inform our efforts and extending the safe and effective administration of Naloxone by police officers to further prevent overdose-related deaths.
“Whilst we recognise the government cannot commit to funding for any longer than the current Spending Review period, many PCCs are concerned at the challenges posed by short-term funding allocation and its impact on the delivery of the Drug Strategy's long-term objectives. We will continue to work closely with the government to raise awareness on this issue.
“The APCC strongly supports the need for further action to address existing barriers to treatment and recovery in our local communities including tackling stigma against people who use drugs and alcohol, and their families and carers. We are keen to ensure appropriate actions are taken to break down obstacles that limit access to treatment through the use of comprehensive needs assessments. For this reason, we also welcome a stronger focus on the provision of specialist mental health support and the Drug Strategy's commitment to increasing the number of medical and mental health practitioners.
“We share the view that a holistic approach is critical for preventing the exploitation of children and young people through county lines. Tackling county lines is central to the work of PCCs who continue to support innovative initiatives such as the multi-force Operation Scorpion that utilise intelligence to close down county lines and safeguard young and vulnerable people. Equally, PCCs are at the forefront of proactive activity to educate and reduce the harm brought by cannabis use and will continue to advocate that scientific and medical evidence on the health impacts of gateway drugs must inform future preventative and treatment activities.”