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'GET TOUGH ON CRACK PROBLEM BY HITTING DRUG DEALERS HARD, BUT HELP ADDICTS'

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Lee Jasper, senior policy adviser to the mayor of London, spoke at 'Cracking Up', a conference highlighting the wor...
Lee Jasper, senior policy adviser to the mayor of London, spoke at 'Cracking Up', a conference highlighting the work of Lambeth's black and minority ethnic drugs strategy group and the borough's crack strategy.

Mr Jasper believes it is essential that London's drugs problem, and in particular crack cocaine, be tackled at source, by targeting drug dealers and hitting their profits. He also wants services to be increased to help people who are addicted to crack. He said:

'The mayor is committed to tackling the problems caused by crack cocaine across London. I commend the steps taken by all the agencies in Lambeth to find a lasting solution. Effective enforcement against dealers, which results in incarceration and the seizure of their assets needs to be combined with the expansion of services to help the crack users that cause so much crime and misery in the borough.'

Ken Livingstone, mayor of London, recently published a policy on reducing alcohol and drug related harm in London. The policy recognises the importance of meeting the needs of Black and minority ethnic communities, which are disproportionately affected by drug and alcohol problems, but have been overlooked by the national drug strategy.

The mayor's drugs and alcohol policy suggests that community involvement is key to tackling alcohol and drug problems effective. The Greater London Authority has also secured more than£250,000 from confiscated assets. This money is to be used for two projects, one developing user involvement in policy-development, planning and service delivery, the other in involving refugee and asylum seekers.

Mr Jasper called for more drugs money to be reinvested in dealing with London's drug problem, but said that the issue should not be treated in isolation and should be looked at as one part of a range of social issues that ultimately bring misery to thousands of individuals and local communities:

'More of London's drug money seized from dealers must be reinvested in London rather than going to the Treasury, but services need to be holistic, addressing physical and mental health problems, as well as housing, welfare, employment and training needs.

He said that addressing the problem of social exclusion was also key to tackling crack cocaine:

'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. Young people from poor communities are disregarded by the education system and discriminated against in employment and training. A crack dealer In London can expect to make thousands of pounds a week. So it is easy to see why drug dealing is such as attractive option.

'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 crime.'

Notes

The mayor drugs and alcohol policy can be downloaded here .

The mayor has established a strategic partnership- the Greater London Alcohol and Drug Alliance - that brings together statutory organisations, Londonwide bodies and community groups such as the Federation of Black and Asian Drug and Alcohol Workers and the Black Londoners Forum to co-ordinate policy and commissioning, and tackle Londonwide problems

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