DDN June2022 June 2022 | Page 4


New sanctions for drug offences on the way , says Malthouse

The government has reignited the controversy around punishments for ‘ middle class cocaine users ’ with the announcement that a forthcoming white paper will set out tough new sanctions for drugs offences . Writing in the Telegraph , crime and policing minister Kit Malthouse said that these would make sure ‘ drug users face clear , certain , swift and escalating consequences ’. There would be new punishments ‘ for so-called “ recreational ” users who continue to flout the law ’, which would become ‘ increasingly painful ’, he wrote .

Although the launch of last year ’ s drug strategy was accompanied by media coverage of ‘ cracking down on middle class drug use ’, many in the sector separated the politically driven need to placate parts of the press with the content of the document itself ( DDN , February , page 8 ). Malthouse ’ s announcement , however , once
again raises the prospect of people having their passports or driving licences removed , policies which many believe to be unworkable . The Telegraph article was also accompanied by an announcement that football fans caught with cocaine or other class A drugs at matches will now face five-year banning orders .
‘ We clearly have to act ,’ Malthouse wrote . ‘ Getting to grips with our nation ’ s drug problem is a key priority for me , the prime minister and the government as a whole , and in December we published a ten-year plan to do just that . But we cannot hope to bring about the complete shift we are looking for without taking action to address so-called “ middle class ”,
or “ recreational ”, drug use . We cannot seriously reduce demand if we do not send a message loud and clear that people who choose to take drugs on a “ casual ” or “ nonaddicted ” basis will face tough and meaningful consequences for their
‘ Drug users [ will ] face clear , certain , swift and escalating consequences ’
part in the misery , violence and degradation that drugs bring .’ The government intended to reduce levels of drug use over the next ten years to a ‘ historic 30-year low ’, he added . Malthouse , who heads the government ’ s Joint Combating Drugs Unit , also told the Independent that he strongly opposed London mayor Sadiq Khan ’ s recent announcement of a London Drugs Commission to look at cannabis legislation . California ’ s legalisation of recreational use of the drug was ‘ widely acknowledged to be a disaster ’, he said .

First Home Officelicensed drug checking service launches

UK ’ s drug prevention activity ‘ ineffective ’

THE COUNTRY ’ S FIRST REGULAR DRUG CHECKING SERVICE to be licensed by the Home Office has opened in Bristol , provided by The Loop .
The new service will combine testing with ‘ personalised health advice ’, says the organisation , and will be delivered in partnership with Bristol City Council – who are funding the scheme – alongside Bristol Drugs Project ( BDP ) and local community body the People ’ s Republic of Stokes Croft ( PRSC ).
The free , confidential service will be operated by The Loop ’ s team of chemists and healthcare professionals , and is designed to build a comprehensive picture of local drug markets as well as reducing the risks around drug use .
Last summer , one person died and 20 were hospitalised in Bristol during a single weekend as the result of a ‘ rogue batch ’ of ‘ Tesla ’ -branded ecstasy pills . Following its launch the service will operate once a month as well as during events such as Pride or local music festivals , The Loop states . As well as providing factual , scientific , evidence-based information about drugs in circulation , the service will ‘ empower people to make safer , informed decisions and access drug treatment and further support ’, said Bristol City Council ’ s cabinet lead for public health , Ellie King .
DESPITE ‘ REASONABLY GOOD EVIDENCE OF WHAT WORKS ’, the UK lacks a functioning drug prevention system , according to an ACMD report – with workforce competency ‘ a key failing ’.
The Drug misuse prevention review was commissioned in the wake of the new drug strategy to look at the best ways of preventing drug use and dependency among vulnerable groups .
There is no ‘ silver bullet ’ to address vulnerability to drug use , the document states . However , the ACMD ’ s ‘ strong advice ’ is that ineffective , fear-based campaigns – the so-called ‘ scared straight ’ approach – should not be pursued , with funding better used elsewhere . The UK should aim for a strategy where prevention is integrated across policy in a ‘ whole-system ’ approach , it says , which will require investment in workforce training . A sole focus on ‘ vulnerable groups ’ limits the reach of prevention activities and can be counter-productive , the review concludes , potentially contributing to further stigmatisation and discrimination .
Document at https :// www . gov . uk / government / publications / drug-misuse-prevention-review