With the rate of drug-related deaths rising rapidly (an increase of 16% alone from 2017 to 2018) the House of Common’s Health and Social Care Committee Report on Drugs policy, published today, recommends a radical overhaul in UK drugs policy from a criminal justice to a health approach. The report goes on to suggest the Government should consult on the decriminalisation of drug possession for personal use in order to redirect money away from the criminal justice system and towards prevention and treatment. Further to this, the Committee calls on the government to provide significant investment into drug treatment services and harm reduction interventions, to help reverse the impact funding cuts of nearly 30% over the past three years.
Humankind welcomes these findings and strongly urges the government to consider the need for evidence-led policy and vital investment in services. Humankind’s CEO, Paul Townsley, comments on the report –
“In recent years substance misuse services have been subject to significant cuts at the same time as drug-related deaths have escalated. The government must urgently provide further investment for frontline services and harm reduction interventions to reverse the upward trend in drug-related deaths we are currently seeing, in doing so saving thousands of lives. Increasingly the people who need to access our services are not able to access them through a shortage of funding. Nevertheless there needs to be a balanced approach that makes sure there is also investment and support for people to enter and leave treatment successfully or continue to receive interventions and medications that maximises independence and effective functioning. We must see increased investment in a range of prevention and treatment initiatives in order to provide tailored help to the maximum number of people. Lifesaving interventions, such as user outreach, needle exchanges and the provision of Naloxone, must be bolstered to meet the ever increasing demand. We must also introduce medications and services that people want and need rather than the cheapest solutions.
I also welcome the report’s recommendation to decriminalise drug possession for personal use. I believe we should focus on the evidence of what works, as noted in the report, and be brave and radical in the changes we make. Illicit markets are having an increasingly negative impact on the people we are trying to help. For too long funding that could have been used to improve recovery based treatment services, harm reduction interventions and prevention strategies, has been used to fund the criminal justice response to possession. This recommendation represents a vital and much needed shift in drug policy to promote harm reduction and focus on the health impacts of drug misuse.”
Read the full Health and Social Care Committee Report on Drugs policy.