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GOVERNMENT IS COMMITTED TO DELIVERING ON THE DRUG STRATEGY

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The government is committed to delivering on the national drug ...
The government is committed to delivering on the national drug

strategy and is making real progress towards that aim. That was the

clear message today from the home office drugs minister, Bob

Ainsworth.

Speaking to one hundred drug action team chairs from around the

country, Mr Ainsworth sent out the unequivocal message that the aim

of the government is, and always has been, to reduce the availability

of dangerous drugs and to tackle drug abuse. He also made clear that,

despite recent media reports, there is no truth in the suggestion

that the government has either given up on or gone soft on drugs.

Mr Ainsworth said: 'We need to do more to tackle problematic drug

use. To focus more on harm reduction and breaking the link between

drugs and crime. To better help those whose drug taking causes

serious damage to their own lives, to their families and to their

communities.

'Recent research by York University estimates that the annual

economic and social costs of drug misuse to society are between£10.9

and£18.8bn. Problematic drug users account for around 99% of

these costs,£11,000 each compared to less than£20 for a

non-problematic user.

'We know treatment works, for every£1 spent,£3 is saved in criminal

justice costs. That is why we have been investing in treatment,

increasing funding from£234m in 2000-01 to£400m by

2003-04.

'We are also committed to reducing the availability of dangerous

drugs. In the last nine months of last year our combined enforcement

agencies seized 3.3 tonnes of heroin and 9.2 tonnes of cocaine before

they could reach the UK. Our intention is to attack and disrupt the

drugs supply chain at every point from cultivation to street dealing.

'Contrary to some recent media reports, the government has neither

gone soft on drugs, nor given up trying to tackle the problems

associated with their misuse. We remain committed to tackling all the

problems associated with drugs through the twin-track approach of

restricting their supply and stifling the demand for, and the harm

caused by, drugs through getting as many addicts as possible into

treatment.'

Mr Ainsworth went on to outline some of the progress that the

government is making towards delivering on the aims of the national

drug strategy:

- Schools education programmes - 93 per cent of secondary, and 75

per cent of primary schools now have a drugs education policy in

place and the government is on target to ensure that 80 per cent of

primary and 100 per cent of secondary schools have drug education

policies in place by 2003.

- Treatment - The National Treatment Agency, which was set up in

April 2001, will be responsible for driving up standards, reducing

waiting times and ensuring equity of access. There is a steady

continuing increase in the numbers accessing treatment. From

1998/99 to 2000/01 the number of people in treatment for drug

addiction rose from about 98,800 to 118,500 an annual rise of 8 per

cent.

- Reducing repeat offending - arrest referral services are now

available in all Police Forces. More than 21,000 arrestees were

interviewed by an arrest referral worker between October 2000 and

March 2001, of these 56 per cent were referred into specialist drug

treatment.

- Drug use among young people - use of Class A drugs by young

people is now broadly stable, although there has been a small

increase in the use of cocaine.

- Seizure figures - in the first 3 quarters of 2001/02 the

Concerted Inter-Agency Drug Action agencies prevented 3.3 tonnes of

heroin and 9.2 tonnes of cocaine from reaching the UK.

NOTES

1. DATs are at the forefront of action to reduce drug problems.

They have the responsibility for delivering the government's

anti-drugs programmes at a local level to ensure that young people

and communities are better protected from the problems brought about

by drug misuse.

2. DATs are non-statutory partnerships bringing together senior

representatives from all of the local agencies involved in anti-drugs

activity in an area, including the health authority, local authority,

police, probation, social services, education and youth services, and

the voluntary sector. There are 149 DATs in England.

3. The Arrest Referral Monitoring Statistical Update, published

by the Home Office in October 2001 showed that:

- More than 21,000 arrestees were interviewed by an arrest referral

worker in England and Wales between October 2000 and March 2001;

- Over half of all arrestees interviewed were referred to a

specialist drug treatment service. More than half had never

previously entered into drug treatment;

- Of those referred to treatment, early results show that between

20 and 25 per cent of arrestees attended treatment;

4. The National Treatment Outcome Research Study (NTORS) has

indicated that for every£1 spent on treatment,£3 is saved in

criminal justice expenditure.

5. The as yet unpublished University of York study into the

economic and social costs of Class A drug misuse in England and Wales

in 2000 found:

- Annual economic costs (mainly to health service, criminal justice

system and state benefits) are estimated to be between£3.7bn and

£6.8bn. Adding social costs (mainly victim costs of crime)

increases figures to between£10.9bn and£18.8bn. Problematic drug

users (PDU) accounts for around 99 per cent of total costs.

- Annual average economic costs per type of drug misuser are less

than£20 for non-PDU (young recreational and older regular users),

£2,030 for Class A (all users but most costs explained by PDU),

£11,000 for PDU.

- Total number of drug misusers classified into different types.

- Young recreational - Class A drug use for age under 25

but not PDU. Lowest estimate is 399,000.

- Older regular users - Regular use of Class A drugs for

age 25 or over but not PDU. Lowest estimate is

1,091,000.

- Problem users (PDU) - Users of any age whose drug use

isno longer controlled or undertaken for recreational

purposes and where drugs have become a more essential

element of the individual's life. Lowest estimate is

281,125.

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