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Tackling drug related crime - Getting it right for future generations

Tackling Drug Related Crime – Getting It Right For Future Generations

Joy Allen, Joint Addictions & Substance Misuse Lead and PCC for Durham.

David Sidwick, Joint Addictions & Substance Misuse Lead and PCC for Dorset.

The use of illegal drugs is fueling an epidemic of violence and criminality, destroying people’s lives and wreaking havoc in our communities.

Statistics show that around 1 in 11 adults aged 16-59 have taken a drug in the last year and over half of all homicides and acquisitive crimes are believed to be drugs related.

The figures are frightening, and the picture is bleak.

That is why the effective implementation of the government’s drugs strategy is absolutely critical. The 10-year strategy is built around the three pillars of tackling supply, evidence-based treatment and recovery services and reducing demand through a shift in attitudes to drugs. If we are to break the cycle, we need to bring all three together to suppress the demand for illegal drugs. A joined-up approach is essential, and this is where Police and Crime Commissioners play a significant role.

PCCs have a part to play in all three of these pillars, and in convening local partnerships, will have a central role in driving implementation locally and cutting crime.

We have already demonstrated our effectiveness of bringing together enforcement, treatment and recovery through our coordination of Project Adder which was launched by the government last year.

Project Adder saw a cash injection to some of the worst affected areas, bringing together local services and improving communication between law enforcement, treatment providers, prisons and other services.

The project has already delivered tangible results across the 13 areas launched with over 600 organised crime groups disrupted, £3.5m in cash seized and over 13,400 drug treatments interventions carried out by outreach providers.

The priority now is to replicate this success nationally. We do know that one size does not fit all which is why the role of every police and crime commissioner is vital.

It’s important that we do not lose sight of the third pillar of the strategy, in many ways the toughest: a generational shift in attitudes to drugs. PCCs have been at the cutting edge here too, with initiatives like Checkpoint in Durham to get people committing low level drug and other offences out of the criminal justice system and into education and treatment programs, and we will be working to influence the national conversation on demand reduction, including the anticipated White Paper. 

As PCCs we know our communities best and already work closely with partners to fund services and local initiatives tailored to the specific needs of our communities.

By bringing together services and agencies we are a key resource in coordinating the joined-up response required to tackle the demand and supply of illegal drugs. This has been demonstrated by the successful Operation Scorpion, where five PCCs and their respective forces harnessed their collective power to disrupt drug supply networks in the South West of England

This is a once in a generation opportunity to tackle drug misuse and the huge harm it causes to our communities. If we don’t get it right now, it’s not worth picturing what the future may look like 10 years from now.

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