Submitted by Redcar and Cleveland Borough
1.1 The Council has been asked to submit
its comments and views on the effectiveness of the Government's
National Ten Year Drug Strategy to the Local Government Association
who will then present a composite report to the House Affairs
1.2 This report brings together all of the
comments and views expressed by the Drug Action Team, The Community
Safety Partnership, the Pre-Executive Overview and Scrutiny Committees
for Health Improvement, Community Safety and Social Inclusion,
the Council Executive (Cabinet) and the ruling Labour Group for
the consideration of the Home Affairs Select Committee. The elected
members of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council would welcome
a Royal Commission into the effectiveness of the National Drugs
1.3 An abridged version of the findings
has been sent to the LGA along with this more comprehensive report.
2.1 There are four Strategic Targets that
make up the National Drug Strategy. They are:
2.2 This report will take each of the above
targets and put them in the local context.
3. YOUNG PEOPLE
3.1 The Key Performance Target relating
to young people is:
To reduce the proportion of young people under
25 using illegal drugs in the last month and previous year substantially,
and reduce the proportion of young people using the drugs which
cause the greatest harm; heroin and cocaine by 50 per cent by
2008 and by 25 per cent by 2005.
3.2 Clearly this is a laudable target but
difficult to measure. Do we know everybody in this given age group
who is currently using cocaine or heroin? Approximations can be
reached through users who access Drug Support services, the Probation
Service or who come into contact with the justice system. The
Home Affairs Committee may wish to ask how the percentages in
the Target were arrived at and which young people are we targeting
in order to meet the target.
3.3 The Strategy guidance encourages all
schools to have drugs education policies. All the schools in Redcar
and Cleveland have a policy which has been delivered in conjunction
with the Tees-Wide Drug Education Team.
3.4 The DAT is involved in a number of prevention
initiatives in conjunction with partners such as Health and the
commercial radio station, TFM. It is difficult to measure how
successfully the prevention message is received but the events
organised for young people are always well attended.
3.5 The Strategy guidance says that the
Government intended to create a Drugs Prevention Board to, "improve
coordination of activity and to take forward joint national commissioning
of effective prevention and education". The Home Affairs
Committee may wish to pose the question, "Where is the Drugs
3.6 The guidance also says that the Government
want to develop a programme of action to reduce misuse of Class
A drugsparticularly heroin and cocaine. In Redcar and Cleveland,
there are supervised methadone swallowing facilities, and an innovative
General Practice in Grangetown which is exclusively for drug users
and their families. This is proving successful and the Practice
reached its targets for patient numbers within its first six weeks.
This is an invaluable resource in a Borough where many GPs refuse
to treat drug users; the Home Affairs Committee may wish to address
this issue with the appropriate medical authority.
3.7 There is a link between prostitution
and heroin use, especially among under age boys and girls. The
Home Affairs Committee may wish to give this issue further consideration.
3.8 Elected Members of the Council believe
that drug education should start very early in the primary school
years, because there is evidence locally to show children as young
as 11 years old are taking heroin.
4.1 The Key Performance Target for communities
"To reduce levels of repeat offending amongst
drug misusing offenders by 50 per cent by 2008 and 25 per cent
4.2 In line with the guidance, there is
an Arrest Referral Officer in Redcar and Cleveland whose services
arrestees can call upon. The Arrest Referral Scheme is totally
voluntary, and those who take advantage of it can go into treatment
programmes or rehabilitation. Rehabilitation fails for many users
because they come out of the programme clean, only to return to
the environment and friends where the temptation to resume drug
taking often proves too powerful to resist. The Home Affairs Committee
may wish to consider this when examining the issues prior to making
4.3 The further use of Drug Treatment and
Testing Orders is recommended in the guidance. This is very interesting
given the results of the three pilot projects run in Croydon,
Liverpool and Gloucester. In his special report for, "The
Guardian" (15 June 2001) entitled, "Drugs in Britain",
Nick Davies said that only 27 of the 210 offenders who took part
in the pilots "seemed to emerge drug free". This figure
was arrived at by overlooking cannabis use and the fact that only
13 offenders passed the final urine tests. Furthermore those offenders
who said they had cut their spending on drugs by 94 per cent had
been failing their urine tests throughout the pilots. They had
failed 42 per cent of their heroin tests, 45 per cent of cocaine
tests and 58 per cent of methadone tests. These figures do not
lead one to think that the DTTOs work. The Home Affairs Committee
may wish to ask Paul Boateng MP, the Minister responsible for
rolling out the DTTOs why he saw fit to do so, given such discouraging
results on the pilot schemes.
4.4 Nick Davies argues that prohibition
only serves to exacerbate the heroin problem and, by virtue of
this, encourage repeat offending, as the drug trade is in the
hands of the criminal. Heroin becomes highly dangerous in the
hands of the criminal when it is cut for the black market created
by prohibition. Heroin is cut with an assortment of products including
cement dust, brick dust, talcum powder, gravy powder, sugar, starch
and powdered milk. None of these were meant to be injected into
veins and can lead to clots, gangrene and even amputation. This
suffering, says Nick Davies, is not caused by the heroin, but
by the black market adulterants. The Home Affairs Committee may
wish to explore the prescribing of heroin by GPs in a clinical
environment as a measure against the black market, criminal control
of that market and the crime generated to buy drugs in that market.
4.5 During the debate on this issue, some
elected members suggested that the Home Affairs Committee may
wish to explore a pilot scheme that will legalise and license
heroin to be sold at recommended retail outlets.
5.1 The Key Performance Target under this
"To increase the participation of problem
drug users, including prisoners, in treatment programmes that
have a positive impact on health and crime by 100 per cent by
2008 and 66 per cent by 2005"
5.2 There are issues within this section
of the report that overlap with each other. For instance in the
case of treatment, it is an issue that some GPs will not treat
users. It is also an issue that Rehabilitation does not work for
many of those who try it.
5.3 The Redcar and Cleveland Drug Action
Team has established its Treatment Programme, and the partners
are working well together. Under the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund
a comprehensive range of treatment packages have been designed
and approved, and there is optimism that they will have a positive
effect on the drug problem across the Borough. The Borough's Neighbourhood
Renewal Fund has as its main themes Employability, Health and
Community Safety and there are obvious links between all three.
Joining up the HAZ programmes has also been done and the approach
to the drugs issue is coordinated and measured. Given the scale
of the problem, the Home Affairs Committee may recommend that
the Government make more resources available to the agencies working
with drugs, rather than make the funding subject to a bidding
5.4 Addiction is an illness. We treat illnesses
in a medical context through medication, counselling and psychological
support. The Home Affairs Committee may want to consider whether
or not the Penal system or punitive measures such as the afore
mentioned DTTOs are the best way to treat addiction.
5.5 The Home Affairs Committee have been
asked elsewhere in this report to consider the prescribing of
heroin by GPs for drug users, and the establishment of General
Practices that cater for drug users and their families. The Committee
may also wish to investigate the worth of the following treatment
Development of drop in facilities
in the community
Use of the "Opium Block"
The appointment of Neighbourhood-based
Drug Support Workers, not necessarily clinicians.
5.6 Some drug users use their time in prison
to come off drugs. The CARATS system is aiming to support offenders
when they leave prison, and help them to remain drug free. The
Home Affairs Committee may wish to consider recommending more
resources into the CARATS system; they may also want to recommend
a "New Deal" type programme that trains offenders for
work whilst in prison, and finds them work to go to on their release.
5.7 There was some discussion about the
quality of medical support for users while they are in prison.
The Home Affairs Committee are asked to investigate how the quality
of treatment in prisons can be improved.
5.8 Local experience shows that Methadone
is not proving effective in helping users to give up heroin. In
fact, many users take heroin "on top" of their methadone
script which defeats the object. The Home Affairs Committee are
asked to recommend the use of more effective alternatives to methadone,
even if they are more expensive.
6.1 The Key Performance Target under this
"Reduce access to all drugs among young
people under 25 significantly, and reduce access to the drugs
which cause the greatest harm, particularly heroin and cocaine,
by 50 per cent by 2008 and by 25 per cent by 2005."
6.2 Enforcement is at the heart of reducing
availability. The illicit drugs market drives a lot of crime locally,
and the Police are committed to reducing availability in line
with the National Drug Strategy and the Local Policing Plan.
6.3 Recovering drugs from large scale dealers
is not as straightforward as it might first appear. Big dealers
have sophisticated methods for procuring and supplying the drugs,
and they rarely have significant quantities of drugs on their
person or at their home. There have been successful seizures of
drugs in Redcar and Cleveland that have come about as a result
of well planned operations based on intelligence gathering and
deploying considerable resources. These operations take time to
put in place and cannot be mounted at a moment's notice. Such
operations also require staff and resources to be taken from other
parts of the Police district, which subsequently suffer as a result.
6.4 The Government has made funding available
under the "Communities Against Drugs" for enforcement
programmes. Drugs are such an issue in our communities that the
Government may wish to consider how they fund Police activities
6.5 Prohibition of drugs, as previously
stated in this paper, puts the drug market in the hands of the
criminal. If heroin were prescribed to users and the heroin problem
was treated in a medical context, then the bottom would fall out
of the illicit drug market and there would be a significant decrease
in levels of acquisitive crime.
6.6 The prohibition-based approach to drugs
does not appear to be working. In fact the Chief Constable of
Cleveland, in a Police Authority report on drugs states, "there
is overwhelming evidence to show that the prohibition-based policy
in place since 1971 has not been effective in controlling the
availability of prescribed drugs. If there is indeed a `war of
drugs' it is not being won".
The Home Affairs Committee may wish to consider
this view, and find out how widely held this view is nationally.
6.7 Police Forces throughout England and
Wales are all tackling the problems of drugs and drug-related
crime. The Home Affairs Committee may explore how Police Forces
can most effectively share best practice on reducing availability.
6.8 The National Drugs Strategy concentrates
on heroin and cocaine as the drugs that cause the greatest harm
and this is certainly the case regarding heroin in Redcar and
Cleveland. However, the elected members would like the Home Affairs
Committee to consider Ecstasy in the same category given the recent
deaths from the drug in the Tees Valley.
7.1 As stated at the beginning of this paper,
the Council are being asked to contribute to the Home Affairs
Committee debate on whether the existing drug policy works. This
paper asks the Home Affairs Committee to consider the following:
(i) how were the percentages in the Key Performance
Target relating to young people arrived at?;
(ii) where is the Drug Prevention Board that
was to be set up in 1999-2000?;
(iii) why should GPs refuse to treat drug
(iv) the link between underage prostitution
and drug use;
(v) rehabilitation often fails because the
person returns to the same environment and circumstances;
(vi) the prescribing of heroin by GPs to
(vii) make funding for drugs work central
and not subject to bidding;
(viii) more resources for CARATS and employment
opportunities for users and offenders on release from prison;
(ix) why are DTTOS being rolled out when
they failed to do what they set out to do? Paul Boateng MP should
address the Committee on this issue;
(x) other treatment packages such as Opium
Block, Drop In facilities in the community and Neighbourhood Based
Drug Support Workers;
(xi) how many Police Forces and agencies
believe the prohibition-based policy is not working;
(xii) drug education should be targeted at
very young children;
(xiii) pilot the licensing and legislation
of heroin to be sold at recommended retail outlets;
(xiv) the Home Affairs Select Committee are
asked to consider Ecstasy in the same category as heroin and cocaine
given recent deaths;
(xv) improve the quality of treatment for
users in prison;
(xvi) use more effective alternatives to
methadone (they do exist but are more expensive);
(xvii) organise the sharing of information
on best practice to reduce availability between Police Force areas;
(xviii) community-based support for users
is crucial to their rehabilitation.