PCCs meet with Ministers to push forward drugs agenda
With around half of all homicides and acquisitive crimes estimated to be drug-related, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners’ (APCC) Joint Addiction and Substance Misuse Leads met with ministers to advocate the importance of prevention and explore opportunities to prevent further drug related offending.
The meeting held on Wednesday 8 February saw Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) Joy Allen and David Sidwick join ministers from across the government and other senior leaders as part of a new cross-governmental group that will be providing national drive and focus to support the implementation of the 10-year Drug Strategy.
David and Joy were able to highlight some of the local issues caused by delays in finalising treatment budgets for the next two years and discuss the vital role PCCs play in getting more offenders into treatment and more prisoners into community drug and alcohol services following their release.
They also championed the need for a stronger focus on prevention and for a generational shift in attitudes to cut the demand which fuels drug markets and the crime associated with them which Ministers have agreed to address at a future meeting.
APCC Joint Addictions and Substance Misuse Lead and PCC for Dorset, David Sidwick, said:
“The meeting was a great opportunity to not only reiterate our commitment to delivering the government's drugs strategy but to stress the importance of strong government leadership and investment coupled with strong local leadership. The scope of the issue requires enforcement, treatment and prevention across the whole range of illegal drug types and issues.
“As National Leads and Police and Crime Commissioners we are committed to delivering on this strategy and are best placed as local leaders to bring partners together to prevent and cut drug related crime in our communities.
“The government’s PCC review is supporting us to drive delivery of the drug strategy and as chairs of Local Criminal Justice Boards (LCJB) we are uniquely placed to co-ordinate work across the criminal justice system, for example to help ensure people leaving prison are being picked up by community services.
“Our ability to do this will be further strengthened when the LCJBs are put on a statutory footing.”
APCC Joint Addictions and Substance Misuse Lead and PCC for Durham, Joy Allen, said:
“The meeting was a great opportunity for us not only as national leads but as local leaders to discuss how we can effectively deliver on the government’s 10-year plan and to prevent further use of drugs and drug related re-offending in our communities.
“We have welcomed the government’s commitment towards tackling the drugs epidemic and we know that through tackling drugs we can significantly cut crime and reduce anti-social behaviour in our communities.
“There are many people entering the criminal justice system with a drugs problem, and we know from reports that around 65% fall out of treatment when they leave prison. Getting people into treatment and recovery is vital for cutting crime, and the criminal justice system provides us with lots of opportunities to target and address drug-related offending.
“We urge all PCCs to play a full and active part in their local Combatting Drugs Partnerships and to ensure that tackling addictions is a key topic of discussion for their local Criminal Justice Boards.”
The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) has been working with His Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) on co-commissioning guidance for PCCs and probation and improving PCCs access to data so, as elected politicians, they can provide effective scrutiny of this work. The Addictions and Substance Misuse portfolio will be hosting the first APCC Forum for PCCs who are Senior Responsible Owners (SROs) for their Combatting Drugs Partnerships on 28 February.