Select Committee on Home Affairs Memoranda


Submitted by the BAC (Burton Addiction Centre)

  The BAC is an Intensive Rehabilitation Centre for individuals who are dependent upon alcohol and drugs. Collectively the Multi Disciplinary Team have over ninety years of experience in this field—some members of the team have personal experience of substance misuse. Service users have also contributed to this memorandum, a number of which are on Drug Testing and Treatment Orders, their feedback is included in this memo.


  NO—The Policy is far too lenient, there appears to be little deterrent in place. We know crime, and now terrorism funds drug use yet most of our drug squads have been disbanded or significantly reduced.

  Confiscation powers appear to be very limited and a minefield of red tape. Drug dealing offers rewards and for many a life of luxury—which many young users aspire to, too often I hear clients remark "doing time isn't so bad if I keep my head down, I even get a colour TV in my cell". We have to take the attraction away—we can only do this by having deterrents, achievable confiscation powers and heavy custodial sentences in place.

  What would be the effect of decriminalisation on:

    1.  The availability of and demand for drugs.

    2.  Drug-related deaths, and

    3.  Crime.

  The effects of decriminalisation would be enormous. What concerns me greatly is the whole subject of the Drugs Policy, now appears to be viewed in terms of crime reduction first and foremost. Yes, drugs have a high impact on crime, but it also has a huge impact on health, physical, mental, psychological—not to mention other consequences to society as a whole, education, employment dependence on the State and is the result of the breakdown of many family units.


  The availability and demand would increase, we already have huge problems and a heavy financial burden on our Public Services, not to mention society, from other legal substances, alcohol and tobacco. Would you now legalise tobacco knowing the serious health risks, is it not the duty of our Government to advise and protect society, if so, if we decriminalised, knowing that drugs are harmful and dangerous on all aspects of life and for thousands result in dependency, what message would you be sending out. It's OK, health will suffer, unemployment will rise, family units will break down and Social Security Benefits will hit an all time high—but crime may be reduced.

  The demand would obviously increase—because of the nature of substances in question and the pharmacology of the drugs—dependency for most is inevitable, and this results in more treatment, rehabs, and many other services, because we would be saying it's OK.

  Smoking a cigarette at school behind the bike shed would become heroin or cannabis—we already have problems and low achievement rates in our education system. How can you educate pupils under the influence of chemicals, not to mention the impact on absenteeism and Health and Safety in the work place.


  People who are dependent misuse drugs to excess—legalising drugs will not decrease this, in fact it will increase. Overdoses are not just because of different strengths and quality of street drugs—most are due to poly drug use, where individuals will use their drug of choice and further drugs on top of that, which is what puts them at risk of respiratory depression—Psychosis. Even now we have needle exchanges, people are still using dirty needles and paraphernalia.


  The majority of drug users who end up in treatment services are unemployed and on State Benefits—for everything—their whole daily routine is centred around their next score. Clients are using £200 upwards to achieve the desired effect, how will they fund this and you could never safety prescribe these levels.

  Will General Practitioners be happy to prescribe dangerous drugs knowing a huge percentage will use other drugs and/or alcohol on top. There will always be an illicit market for what you can't get on prescription, at a cost that the average wage will not cover, let alone benefits. To believe decriminalisation will reduce crime is naive and foolish.

  The practical alternatives are to remove the attraction.

    (a)  More hard hitting publicity and education on the dangers and consequences.

    (b)  An active Drug Squad.

    (c)  Longer Prison sentences.

    (d)  Confiscation powers that are achievable and enforced.

    (e)  More funding for effective treatment and rehabilitation.

October 2001

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