Drink and Drugs News DDN November 2019 (1) | Page 4

NEWS ROUND-UP MPs call for radical overhaul of 'clearly failing' drugs policy T wo select committee reports in two weeks have called for an overhaul of the UK’s drug policy, with the Health and Social Care Committee stating that policy is ‘clearly failing’ and requires radical change and the Scottish Affairs Committee calling for the government’s approach to be ‘substantially reformed’. The evidence is clear – the criminal justice approach does not work Pete Wishart MP With rates of drug-related deaths now at the ‘scale of a public health emergency’ a shift from a criminal justice to a health-based approach is urgently required, says the Health and Social Care Committee, adding that significant investment needs to be directed into drug treatment as soon as possible. This would need to be accompanied by a centrally coordinated clinical audit to make sure that guidelines are being followed in the best interests of service users, it says. Both reports want to see responsibility for drugs policy moved from the Home Office to the Department of Health and Social Care, and both support decriminalisation for personal use and the introduction of consumption facilities. The Scottish Affairs Committee states that if legislation allowing for consumption rooms cannot be brought forward then the power to do so should be devolved to Scotland. ‘UK drugs policy is clearly failing,’ said Health and Social Care Committee chair Sarah Wollaston MP. ‘Avoidable drug deaths are increasing year on year across the UK but there has been a failure to act on the evidence. Scotland is particularly hard hit with the highest death rate in Europe. Decriminalisation alone would not be sufficient. There needs to be a radical upgrade in treatment and holistic care for those who are dependent on drugs and this should begin without delay.’ ‘The evidence is clear – the criminal justice approach does not work,’ added Scottish Affairs Committee chair Pete Wishart MP. Reports at www.parliament.uk Deaths related to drug misuse, England and Wales, 2018 registrations www.ons.gov.uk 4 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • NOVEMBER 2019 'Orange book' for alcohol PHE IS WORKING to produce the first UK-wide set of clinical guidelines for alcohol treatment, the agency has announced. While the UK drug misuse treatment guidelines – widely known as the ‘orange book’ – have helped to ensure good practice in drug treatment, there has so far been no equivalent for alcohol. PHE will start work on the guidelines this month using an expert group of clinicians, professionals and service users, with the aim of publishing by the end of 2020. The guidelines will: • promote good practice • improve service provision • develop clear consensus • provide reference points for inspection • give guidance on managing pathways • implement interventions recommended by NICE • increase the number of people in the UK receiving effective treatment Importation ring busted THIRTEEN MEN HAVE BEEN ARRESTED as part of an investigation into what the NCA is calling the largest UK drugs importation operation yet discovered. They are thought to be part of the UK arm of a ‘well- By working closely with partners... we believe we have dismantled a well- established drug supply route established’ organised crime group that used Dutch and British front companies to import heroin, cocaine and cannabis hidden in lorries carrying vegetables and juice. The group is responsible for importing more than 50 tonnes of drugs, says the agency, with six Dutch citizens also awaiting extradition to the UK. ‘We suspect these men were involved in an industrial-scale operation – the biggest ever uncovered in the UK,’ said NCA’s regional head of investigations, Jayne Lloyd. ‘By working closely with partners here and overseas, in particular the Dutch national police, we believe we have dismantled a well-established drug supply route.’ The right support for survivors of sexual abuse DRUG AND ALCOHOL SERVICES need to make sure they are informed enough to treat or signpost clients who are also survivors of sexual abuse, says the One in Four charity. The organisation has produced a film containing powerful first- person testimony, Numbing the Pain: Survivors’ Voices of Childhood Sexual Abuse and Addiction (www.youtube.com/watch? v=KXmTVznOtE8&feature=y outu.be), as well as a pocket guide for professionals. While evidence shows that large numbers of people accessing substance treatment have experienced childhood abuse or trauma, services remain largely ill equipped to offer the support they need or refer them to appropriate specialist help (DDN, May, page 10). Guide available at www.ebay. co.uk/itm/Numbing-the-Pain- by-One-In-Four-and-Christiane- Sanderson-/153544206259 WWW.DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS.COM