February 27, 2008
The government today published its report, Drugs: Protecting Families
and Communities. Senior political correspondent Andrew Sparrow
summarises its key points
There are an estimated 332,000 problem drug users in England.
Class A drug uses costs the country £15.4bn a year in crime and health
Between a third and a half of theft and burglary is estimated to be
24% of people aged 16 to 24 have used an illegal drug in the past year.
10% of people aged 16 to 59 have used an illegal drug in the past year.
The UK illegal drug market is estimated to be worth between £4bn and
£6.6bn a year.
Police to have the power to seize cash and assets belonging to suspected
drug dealers on arrest, rather than on conviction. “Those who buy
‘bling’, plasma screens and other household goods, to avoid circulating
cash, will have their assets seized before they have a chance to
A greater range of goods will be subject to the asset recovery
programme, which enables convicted drug dealers to have their assets
seized. The 12-year time limit governing asset recovery will also be
Asset seizure agreements to be negotiated with other countries, starting
with the United Arab Emirates in April 2008, “so dealers can’t channel
Antisocial behaviour orders to be imposed on drug dealers after
conviction. These could ban them from entering certain areas, or
engaging in certain behaviour linked to drug dealing.
Further drug screening at airports.
Police to be encouraged to make greater use of the powers they have to
close crack houses.
Wider use of drug intervention programmes, which involves offenders
having to take treatment programmes.
Drug users to be threatened with benefit cuts if they do not participate
in drug treatment programmes. “We do not think it is right for the
taxpayer to help sustain drug habits when individuals could be getting
treatment to overcome barriers to employment.”
Increasing support available to drug users to help them get housing and
Trial projects to “explore the potential of a more flexible use of
funding to address individual needs”.
DRUG TREATMENT SERVICES
Programmes involving prescription of injectable heroin and methadone to
addicts who do not respond to other forms of treatment to be rolled out,
“subject to the findings, due in 2009, of pilots exploring the use of
this type of treatment”.
“New and innovative treatment approaches” to be investigated.
Programmes using “positive reinforcement techniques” to be piloted.
Addicts to be encouraged to make wider use of mutual aid support networks.
Prison drug treatment programmes to be improved.
SUPPORT FOR FAMILIES
Family members such as grandparents who take on caring responsibilities
in the place of drug-using parents to get additional support through a
programme in which councils can pay those caring for children classified
as “in need”.
More support for parents with drug problems so that children do not fall
into “excessive or inappropriate caring roles”.
More family-based treatment services to protect young people.
Improved information and guidance to be available to all parents.
Schools and colleges to be encouraged to see what they can do to
identify and support.
Further action to be taken to reduce underage sales of alcohol and