crack cocaine misuse were today urged to step up the fight against
crack and do everything that they can to resist the devastating
impact that it can have. The victim communities were also promised
communities in the battle against crack.
The call for action came from speakers at a major national
conference, organised by the Home Office, on the impact of crack
cocaine and the problems that it could cause in the communities worst
affected if action is not taken. Speakers identified poor urban
communities in general and the black urban community in particular as
most at risk of harm.
Speaking in Birmingham, Home Office drugs minister, Bob Ainsworth
'All communities are at risk from crack cocaine and the associated
problems of crime, violence and decline. Some major urban areas have
significant problems whilst many other areas remain largely
'Whilst usage of almost every other illegal drug is lower in black
communities than in white communities, the use of crack cocaine is
greater in black communities.
'This means that some areas are more at risk of suffering the
potentially devastating impact that crack cocaine can have upon
individuals, families and whole communities.
'We have called this conference in order to highlight this problem
and draw together experts who can provide practical examples of how
communities can resist the impact of the drug. We are continuing to
monitor the incidence of crack cocaine misuse.
'Funding is already available under the Communities Against Drugs
programme for work to mobilise local communities against drugs and I
would like to see more projects funded by this money addressing the
particular community problems posed by crack cocaine. '
Commander Alan Brown from the head of the Metropolitan Police
Operation Trident said:
'Crack cocaine and violence associated with it present policing and
other social agencies with potentially their biggest challenge. It is
only by working together that we will be able to support communities
and give them confidence to reject the intimidation and violence to
secure a safer society.'
Lee Jasper from the Greater London Authority said:
'It is vital to recognise that crack cocaine and social exclusion are
mutually reinforcing. Crack cocaine preys on communities that are
already disadvantaged and discriminated against.
'A strategy to tackle crack cocaine must build aspirations,
confidence and skills in the poorest communities to prevent drug
problems arising. Black and minority ethnic communities must be at
the heart of this response and be given the power and resources to
develop skills and confidence to reduce the problems of crack use and
Speakers at the conference called on communities affected by crack
- Report crack dealing to the police.
- Support local campaigns against crack dealing.
- Help educate young people about the dangers of crack.
- Form support groups for parents of crack using children.
- Volunteer to work with local drugs projects to treat and
rehabilitate crack users.
- Recognise the problems which crack can cause to individuals,
families and communities.
- Form an action plan to bring their communities together in the
fight against drugs.
Deprived communities such as those affected by crack cocaine use
already benefit from investment from a range of government funding
streams, including the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund and the Community
Cohesion Programme. In the 2001 Budget an extra£220m was
allocated over three years for the Communities Against Drugs
Programme. This funding is specifically designed to help local
communities mobilise against drugs.
1. According to 'Drug misuse declared 2000: results from the
British Crime Survey', 2 per cent of respondents from all black
groups reported lifetime use of crack cocaine, compared to only 1 per
cent lifetime use amongst white respondents. Amongst black
respondents only 3 per cent reported lifetime cocaine and ecstasy
use, compared to 5 per cent lifetime use of cocaine and ecstasy use
amongst white respondents. Lifetime use of heroin is reported at 1
per cent for both groups.
2. The Department of Health has established an expert group to
review treatment services for crack users. The National Treatment
Agency has developed a crack cocaine work programme for 2002-03
involving testing out models of what works in treating crack users.
This will involve reviewing different models of service delivery in
several areas and improving standards of care, human resources in
drug agencies and waiting time standards.
3. The conference heard details of successful community projects
that could be used as best practice is dealing with the problems
presented by crack cocaine misuse. These included:
- A scheme in Haringey that has successfully developed schemes to
close crack houses and work with crack users. These involve
co-operative work across a range of agencies, the local authority to
act against tenants; the media, to highlight the issue; mental health
services to cope with crack users with dual diagnosis problems;
social services to work with vulnerable tenants whose homes are taken
over and used as crack houses, or whose children are at risk; drug
services to provide rapid access to crack users; the police to act
quickly against houses; and street health services to work with sex
- A project in Brent that seeks to ensure action against crack
includes close liaison with local black communities. The community
panels there act as a channel for communication and intelligence,
helping to smooth police community relationships, ensuring operations
do not cause unrest or disorder and making clear that action against
gun-crime related to crack is a benefit to the vast majority of
ordinary law community members.