GHP July 2017

GHP / July 2017 13 NEWS , Each year in the UK, drugs cost so- ciety £10.7 billion in policing, healthcare and crime, with drug- fuelled theft alone costing £6 bil- lion a year. Research shows that for every £1 spent on treatment, an estimated £2.50 is saved. In 2015/16, 2.7 million – over 8% – of 16-59-year-olds in England and Wales took illegal drugs. This is down from 10.5% a decade ago, but new threats are emerg- ing including new psychoactive substances such as ‘spice’, im- age and performance enhancing drugs, ‘chemsex’ drugs and mis- use of prescribed medicines. The new strategy confronts these threats and sets out new action to protect the most vulnerable, in- cluding the homeless, victims of domestic abuse and those with mental health issues. The comprehensive new ap- proach brings the police, health and local partners together to sup- port those most at risk. The strate- gy includes measures to: • Reduce demand: through deterrent work including an expansion of the Alcohol and Drugs Education and Pre- vention Information Service for young people; • Restrict supply: by pursuing a strong law enforcement response and dismantling trafficking networks; • Support recovery: a new Na- tional Recovery Champion will be appointed to make sure adequate housing, em- ployment and mental health services are available to help people turn their lives around and; • Drive international action: an international strand is in- cluded for the first time, set- ting out action to strengthen controls at our borders, un- derstand global trends and share intelligence. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “Since becoming Home Sec- retary I have seen first-hand how drugs can destroy lives. I am de- termined to confront the scale of this issue and prevent drug mis- use devastating our families and communities. “This government has driven a tough law enforcement response in the UK and at our borders, but this must go hand in hand with prevention and recovery. This new strategy brings together po- lice, health, community and global partners to clamp down on the il- licit drug trade, safeguard the most vulnerable, and help those affect- ed to turn their lives around. We must follow through with our com- mitment to work together towards a common goal: a society free from the harms caused by drugs.” The Home Secretary will chair a new cross-government Drug Strategy Board, to drive action and ensure the strategy is delivered by all partners. Under the strat- egy, police and law enforcement will continue to pursue a strong enforcement response to restrict the supply of drugs by adapting our approach to reflect changes in criminal activity and using innova- tive data and technology. In only early July this year, Border Force and National Crime Agency officers helped intercept a boat carrying 1.5 tonnes of uncut South American cocaine, with a street value of about £200 million, pre- venting it from entering the UK. In addition to a tough global and domestic law enforcement re- sponse, we will continue to pro- mote the role of the police in re- ferring drug-misusing offenders to appropriate services to max- imise the significant benefits that investment in treatment can have on reducing crime and anti-social behaviour. National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Drugs, Commander Si- mon Bray said: “Illicit drugs fea- ture in so many types of harm and crime; they are frequently used as a commodity by organised crim- inals and gangs, often linked to violence and exploitation of the vulnerable. Drugs are the root cause behind countless burgla- ries, thefts and robberies, and are often associated with anti-social behaviour and public concern. The government has set out their new strategy for tackling the complex harms and issues associated with drugs and police will play our part in delivering it.” Additional new action in the strate- gy includes improved measures to test the long-term success of treat- ment. As part of the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS), health services will now carry out additional checks to track the progress of those in recovery at 12 months, as well as after 6, to ensure they remain drug-free. Building on the successful impact of the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016, a new NPS intelligence system will ensure the treatment response stays one step ahead of the criminals pushing newly invented substances onto British streets. The system, being developed by Public Health England, will re- duce the length of time between drug-related health harms emerg- ing and effective treatment re- sponses being prepared. A network of medical experts will analyse data from a new pilot system (RIDR - Report Illicit Drug Reactions), designed to gather information about adverse reac- tions and harms caused by NPS and other drug use, to identify pat- terns and agree the best clinical responses. Paul Hayes, Chief Executive of the Collective Voice, said: “The government’s recognition that ev- idence based treatment, recovery, and harm reduction services need to be at the heart of our collective response to drug misuse is very welcome. Investment in treatment has reduced levels of drug use, cut drug related crime, enabled tens of thousands of individuals to overcome dependence, and is crucial in combating the recent in- crease in drug related deaths. “The Home Secretary’s com- mitment to personally lead this cross-government effort, and the increased transparency of local performance provide the political energy and focus needed to turn the strategy’s aspirations into out- comes.”