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The communities most at risk of harm from the problems caused by ...
The communities most at risk of harm from the problems caused by

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

the support and help of the government to strengthen their

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

cocaine to:

- 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.

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