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BLACKPOOL ONE OF THE FIRST TO REDUCE NUMBER OF ROUGH SLEEPERS TO ZERO

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Mo Mowlam, cabinet office minister with responsibility for the ...
Mo Mowlam, cabinet office minister with responsibility for the

government's work on social exclusion, this week talked with some of

Blackpool's young homeless people and congratulated the town for its

work in reducing the number of people sleeping rough on its streets.

Joining the young people for breakfast in a local nightshelter, Dr

Mowlam said:

'This project makes a real difference to the young people of

Blackpool. In collaboration with the local council, they have done a

brilliant job in helping the young homeless of the town to make a new

start.

'Blackpool is one of the first towns in the country to reduce

the number of people sleeping rough to zero. This project plays a

vital part in keeping up this good work by preventing young people

from having to sleep rough on our streets.

'This government's top priority is tackle the root causes of

poverty, homelessness and social exclusion. Working in partnership

will be key to this and the rough sleepers unit will be funding

projects like Blackpool Nightshelter around the country.'

The Blackpool Nightshelter has six bedspaces for 16-25 year olds.

The project is run by the Streetlife Trust, a local church-based

organisation and receives support from Blackpool BC, the

national lottery and other charitable sources.

As well as meeting young people, Dr Mowlam spoke with members of the

Streetlife Trust, including its chair Michael Manly, and

Blackpool BC to discuss services in the town and how they work together to help vulnerable young homeless people.

NOTES

1. Mo Mowlam delivered a keynote speech (see below) to the ACPO

(Association of Chief Police Officers) conference, 'No where to

Hide', in Blackpool later in the day.

2. Mo Mowlam was appointed by the prime minister to co-ordinate

policies aimed at tackling social exclusion across government in

December 1999. She makes regular visits across the country to see how

effective government policies aimed at eradicating social exclusion

are on the ground. Dr Mowlam also chairs the ministerial network on

social exclusion including Ministers from every social policy

Department.

3. Government policies targeted to reduce homelessness and the social

exclusion of young people include:

- the rough sleepers unit in the DETR with a budget of almost£200m to tackle rough sleeping across England. The unit, headed by Louise Casey, has a strategy with the aim of reducing the number of people sleeping rough by at least two thirds in the next two years by 2002.

- following on from the social exclusion unit's report 'Bridging the

Gap', the DfEE and others are working to set up the first ever

unified Youth Support Service, to guide all 13-19-year-olds through

the benefit, education and training systems.

SPEECH BY GOVERNMENT CO-ORDINATOR, MO MOWLAM

DELIVERED AT THE ASSOCIATION OF CHIEF POLICE OFFICERS (ACPO) NATIONAL DRUGS CONFERENCE

WEDNESDAY 28 JUNE 2000

Thank you Colin [Phillips] for that introduction.

I am delighted to be here today to open your 2000 National Drugs Conference.

I want to begin by congratulating ACPO on the impressive list of speakers you have lined up for the next two days.

The range of issues they are covering shows how we have to look at this problem from all sides.

I look at it like one of those images from a satellite camera.

You start by focussing in on the individual person hooked on drugs - with their life steadily being turned upside down.

Then we zoom out a bit and see the families and friends of drug addicts and the effects it has on them.

Zoom out again and look at the community affected by drug dealing and by the one-third of all property crime that is committed by people on drugs.

Another step back and we see the whole of society. Parents frightened of losing their children to drugs. Taxpayers - in the UK alone - spend over£1.5 billion every single year on tackling drugs.

Then we zoom out some more and see the world-wide trade in illegal drugs.

A trade riddled with greed, violence, and killing.

A multi-billion dollar trade that begins with producers in some of the poorest, most troubled countries in the world.

Where it destroys whole communities, breeds conflict and causes grave environmental damage.

A trade that travels across all international borders and respects none.

And creates extensive black markets in countries across the world - black markets dominated by crime, rivalries and violence.

It is a problem no single country can hope to tackle alone.

It is only by working together that we can hope to begin to challenge the power of the drug traffickers - the dealers and the pushers - at every level.

And it's a problem no country can afford to ignore.

Last year in the UK alone, nearly three tonnes of cocaine and 900 kgs of heroin were seized.

That's a street value of over£250 million in cocaine and nearly£80 million in heroin.

In Europe as a whole, 43 tonnes of Cocaine and 14 tonnes of Heroin were seized - totalling nearly£4 billion in street value.

International co-operation against drugs is vital - and the UK is a lead player.

In our contributions to the UN Drug Control Programme - over£7 million US Dollars last year.

In working with other countries' law enforcement agencies - including as part of the new CIDA Group (Concerted Inter-Agency Drugs Action) which has been set up to formalise the ad hoc joint arrangements we already have.

And within Europe the UK is pressing for a common approach to, penalties for trafficking; sharing information; and encouraging joint operations by law enforcement agencies including building up the EU applicant countries' involvement in the fight against drugs.

This Summer Prime Minister Tony Blair is leading the drive to use the G8 Okinawa Summit to improve international co-operation on money laundering, asset seizures and the global trade in the chemicals used to prepare drugs.

Drug trafficking is major multi-national business. And like any other business it relies on its' capital base, and its' funding flows to survive.

International co-operation is the only way to hit those and to hit them hard.

To give you a sense of the scale of the problem, somewhere between 40 to 100 billion dollars of drug money is laundered each year in the US alone.

Again, international co-operation is the only way forward.

The recent report by the Financial Action Task Force - which will be discussed in Okinawa - should inform financial institutions around the world about the money laundering threat, and encourage countries listed in the report to improve their practices.

For other countries, where there is major production of illicit drugs, the effects can be devastating - on their economies and on their societies.

For example, I was recently in Colombia talking with government, NGOs, journalists, the police and the army about the drug problems there.

In Colombia as in other countries with major drug production problems, violence, conflict and terrorism are all part of the drugs business.

The damage wrought upon families, communities and the environment is devastating.

Overall cocaine production there has tripled since 1993.

But in places like Colombia, it's impossible to divorce the efforts against drug production and trafficking from the efforts to create a more peaceful, stable society.

If farmers for example - many of them small producers - are to be encouraged to stop growing crops like coca and poppies there has to be the support and technical assistance to enable them to grow alternatives.

If governments are to successfully tackle the drug producers in their own countries then they need to isolate them from the political and social conflicts they are often caught up with.

The international community has a tremendous responsibility to help that process.

Let's be clear. We have no choice.

As much as three quarters of the world's cocaine is produced in Colombia.

And when you think that between 100 and 145 metric tonnes of cocaine comes into Western Europe alone each year - with a street value of between 7 and 10 billion pounds each year - you see the scale of the problem.

In two weeks time there will be an international conference in Madrid to decide how best the international community can support the peace process in Colombia and at the same time tackle the drugs problem. The UK is strongly supporting the Spanish government in this.

There is an awful lot being done at the international level. But much more that can and will need to be done by countries working together to aid alternative development.

Many of you here are at the forefront in the UK in attacking the supply of drugs.

And you'll know there have been major successes through Customs and Excise and the Police - showing a 13% increase in seizures last year.

But as everyone here will also know, that is only half the story.

We have to tackle the demand for drugs too.

As Mike Trace will set out for you later on this morning our national drugs strategy - 2 years old, 10 years in all - places equal emphasis on treatment and prevention work as it does on cutting crime and stifling the supply of drugs.

We have to tackle both at the same time if we are going to have any success in preventing drug misuse and protecting communities against the harm that drugs cause.

Even at this early stage, we can point to some small indicators of success.

For example

- The expansion of treatment services in our prisons in the last 4 years has shown something like a 10% reduction in the number of prisoners testing positive for drugs;

- Arrest referral programmes are now being rolled out nation-wide with£20m of new money and the early evaluations are showing that such schemes can reduce offending by as much as 80%;

- And Drug Treatment and Testing Orders - being rolled out nationally from October - show a remarkable reduction in the number of crimes committed by offenders who have been on the treatment programme.

For these and all the programmes in our drugs strategy to work, all the individual agencies concerned have to work together.

Colin has touched on that and I'm sure Mike will give you a good readout in a few minutes time on how well that is working.

So I won't cut across what he is going to say. I will just say that the drive to expand drug treatment capacity is essential.

We will soon know the outcome of the spending review on drugs policy and what our budget is to be for the next 3 years.

Part of that is going to be a pooled budget for treatment services. With a National Treatment Agency set up to help administer it from next April.

The details of exactly how that's going to work are now being looked at and all those involved in commissioning and providing services will want to have an input in how it's going to work on the ground.

We are also looking at expanding the resources available through the Confiscated Assets Fund.

This year there are£5m - next year there will be£7m.

And, as my colleague, Cabinet Office Minister, Ian McCartney announced last week; we are aiming to have legislation in the next Parliament to enable more assets to be seized and more funds to be made available for our anti-drugs work.

On the prevention side too we have to keep up the pressure to ensure that the messages coming out are clear, consistent and relevant.

Over 90% of secondary schools and nearly 70% of primary schools now have drug education policies.

Again that's thanks to the efforts working together of the different services represented in this room.

And finally on that just a word about the Runciman Report. The Government hasn't binned the Report.

There were over 80 recommendations, many of which we believe we can take on board.

But as a government we decided that we couldn't accept the recommendations to reclassify cannabis and ecstasy under the 1971 Act.

I support the research that is going on into the use of cannabis as a medicine and I hope we get to see some results pretty quickly. I know there are quite a lot of people now becoming involved in the research - especially that dealing with MS - and I'm very pleased to see that.

But that let's be clear, this research has nothing to do with the debate about legalisation.

The goals of our ten year strategy are set out quite clearly - as you discussed at your conference here last year.

Achieving those goals means tackling the problems at all levels. Right from the international level down to the level of an individual - giving them the help they need to cast off the yoke of drug addiction.

Addressing the supply and the demand for drugs.

As one police-officer said to me in Colombia, 'We would be able to do our job against the drug barons a lot better if you could do better at cutting the demand in your countries for the drugs they produce'.

It's a major challenge - for the whole international community.

Here in the UK I believe we are on the right road. A fact reinforced when I meet politicians and drugs workers in other countries and see how positive they are about the approach we're taking.

Our strategy is the right one.

And with the help of all the agencies represented here - in partnership with government and with each other - I am confident, we can meet the tough targets that Keith and Mike have set for us.

And in doing so leave all involved in the illegal drugs business with (as your conference title has it) 'Nowhere to Hide'.

Thank you.

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