APCC responds to Home Affairs Select Committee on Drug Policy
APCC Addictions & Substance Misuse Leads, Durham PCC Joy Allen and Dorset PCC David Sidwick, respond to Home Affairs Committee report - ‘Reform law and expand treatment options to tackle cost of drugs on society’:
“We welcomed the opportunity to give evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) and welcome its report.
“We agree with the HASC that tackling drug problems demands a cross-government approach bringing together the Home Office and Department for Health and Social Care, as well as other key departments, including the Ministry of Justice and Department for Education. We would reassure the HASC that this is already happening to a significant degree and are delighted to be attending the cross-ministerial group driving policy, as well as chairing our multi-agency Combatting Drugs Partnerships locally.
“The HASC report highlights the importance of initiatives to reduce drug-related harms, including the use of naloxone to prevent overdose deaths and buprenorphine to support recovery. Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) have played a key role in extending the voluntary provision of naloxone by police officers and they have led calls for developing the use of long-acting buprenorphine, particularly for those leaving prison. Development of drug consumption rooms and pill testing would be much more controversial. We would also like to have seen more on abstinence and recovery (including access to jobs, housing, and social networks to support recovery) – the HASC says that these can be over-emphasised at the cost of harm reduction; our experience is that the opposite is more often the case.
“Cannabis and other illegal gateway drugs cause significant harms in our communities, and we were pleased to see, following a visit to Uruguay to find out about the impact there, and a detailed examination of the evidence, that the HASC concludes with a clear and explicit rejection of proposals for legalising cannabis in the UK. That doesn’t mean criminalising people is the answer. We fully support evidence-based approaches to diverting drug users away from the criminal justice system into educational and similar programmes and are pleased to see the HASC advocating for diversion schemes like Checkpoint, which have been pioneered by PCCs. We would not, however, support its proposal to place a duty on police forces to establish such schemes in all force areas, which should remain a matter for local decision makers. “
In March 2023 the APCC published 'Tackling Addictions In Focus' which demonstrates how PCCs are tackling crime and ASB that is linked to addictions and substance misuse, and driving the implementation of the ‘From Harm to Hope’ Drug Strategy.