strategy and is making real progress towards that aim. That was the
clear message today from the home office drugs minister, Bob
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
'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
'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
'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
Mr Ainsworth went on to outline some of the progress that the
government is making towards delivering on the aims of the national
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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
- 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