Development of new Drug Strategy for Northern
To seek the views of adults and young people
on a range of issues, including, what people thought about (a)
the current drug situation; (b) the level of treatment services
available; (c) the Government's efforts to tackle this issue;
and, (d) any other ideas on a way forward.
A number of methods were chosen including focus
groups selected by an independent interviewing organisation, an
advertisement in all the main regional and local newspapers seeking
views, and two conferences.
The response level for the focus groups and
conferences was very good, but newspaper advertisements produced
only three responses, two of which were from outside Northern
In total, there were 10 focus groups. Each group
prepared (a) a detailed report of all that was actually said;
and (b) a summary report of the key issues raised. The Team undertaking
the Review of Drugs during the report stage then considered these
summaries. The responses to the newspaper advertisement did not
add significantly to the consultation process.
The conferences were used to report progress
and give the statutory and voluntary organisations an opportunity
to discuss some of the key findings and develop them further.
The review of drugs also included consultation
with a large number of key people working in the statutory and
voluntary sector to tackle the problem of drugs.
Ways in which the NIO's decision making processes
have been adapted to take account of Public Consultation
As the drug culture is seen by many as a rapidly
evolving issue, it was considered important to seek the views
of the general public, together with those representing local
government, trade unions, teachers, parents, drug users, young
people, church leaders etc in order that the government's co-ordinated
efforts to tackle the issue were developed further. It was essential
that an integrated strategy involving these groups, together with
the police and Customs and Excise, was developed and implemented.
Lessons learnt by NIO regarding good (and bad)
practice in Consultation
A number of practical lessons were learnt, including:
Despite the best efforts of the Review
Team, a number of organisations who should have beeen consulted
The time allowed for consultations
is never long enough for some organisations.
Avoid carrying out consultations
during holiday periods.
Organisations, which you would expect
to respond during consultations rarely, do, and some then write
in to complain that they were not consultedconsultation
documents rarely reach the "right" people.