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Mr. Charles Clarke: The short answer is yes. The right hon. Gentleman is right to identify random drug testing in schools as a necessary weapon for head teachers who wish to use it. I do not think that it is accurate to say that we were less than fulsome about it. On the contrary, we positively encourage it, and I certainly did as Secretary of State for Education and Skills.
David Davis: I am pleased to hear that. If I rememberI am relying on my memory, which is probably not a good idea given that I am on cold drugsextreme caution was advocated. I think that that was the phrase used. That is one aspect. In any event, we should look at the guidance.
The second point is resource. There are drug-testing machines that schools would not be able easily to afford but it might well be worth while providing them to local education authorities. It is my party's policy that we would do that. It would be a good idea if the Government took that on board as a way of accelerating the process. Addiction among the young is the most pernicious ailment afflicting our society, but as the Home Secretary said, it can be beaten.
When I spoke to the Americans this summer on this matter they told me that they were able to reduce addiction generally among teenagers by 11 per cent. in two years. As the addiction that they were talking about included alcohol, I will give way to the hon. Member for Cardiff, Central (Mr. Jones) on his point on whisky.
David Davis: A spliff, because of the effect on the psychological health of the person in the long term. Whisky is, of course, harmful when used immoderately. Beyond that, I shall rest on Mr. Speaker's advice on the matter.
I return to the issue of the reduction of addiction among teenagers. The rather simple pointa blindingly obvious point in a waythat the Americans made to me when they were talking about the matter was that the key was simultaneous reduction of supply and demand. They made the very good point that if supply alone was reduced, price was increased, and that that encouraged more supply, so that did not work. If demand was reduced but not supply, the pushers looked for new markets, tried harder and pushed demand back up. Simultaneous reduction of the two is a key part of any
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Government's strategy. It may sound an obvious point, but it is not something that many Governments manage to achieve.
As I have said, we welcome the testing of class A drugs on arrest. As I understand it, the Bill makes provision to do so only for those aged over 18. Given the increasing use of drugs by minors, why not extend the provision to those under 18? That seems to me to be self-evident. It is a point that would be worth picking up by the Minister today or in Committee.
It is proposed in the Bill to extend the arrest referral scheme, making it compulsory for those testing positive to attend assessment. As far as I can see, it does not make it compulsory to undergo a complete treatment programme. It is important to complete that programme, because starting such a programme is not a solutionfinishing it is. Again, the Bill appears to apply only to those over 18.
For those testing positive, what sort of care plan do the Government have in mind? Under the current arrest referral scheme, the Government's research seems to show that 97 per cent. of those interviewed failed to make it into effective treatment. The Government's flagship treatment programme, the drug treatment and testing order, has only a 28 per cent. completion rate and an 80 per cent. reconviction rate. One Whitehall insider is quoted as saying that "breach is the norm" with DTTOs. The only way to break the link between drugs and crime is to adopt the policy outlined by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green when he talked about Conservative policy offering residential rehabilitation or the criminal justice system, and that choice immediately, not after a wait, and not the halfway measure that appears to be proposed in the Bill.
Mr. Duncan Smith:
My right hon. Friend is touching on the rehabilitation point. A few weeks ago I visited a centre in Norfolkthe Princess of Wales rehabilitation centre, I think. About a third of its beds were not occupied. The reason was the way in which the local authorities were involved in deciding how much money was allocated and whether people could be put into that rehab. Does my right hon. Friend agree that we need to put the power to put people into rehabilitation either in the hands of the courts, with the money to follow them, or in the hands of the police, or both, but certainly not leave it to local government or any other body, even
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including health departments, and that when someone is found to be on drugs the decision should almost immediately be made and the process begun?
David Davis: I agree for two reasons. First, for the immediacy of the decision, and secondly because the systems that work require some continuing coercion. They require the option, for example, of saying, "If you fail in this system, you are back into the criminal justice system." For both those reasons it is worth while doing exactly what my right hon. Friend says.
John Mann: Will the right hon. Gentleman explain why, when his party voted for residential rehabilitation 18 months ago, it cited Sweden as the example? Will he explain also why Sweden reduced last year the number of places in residential rehabilitation by more than two thirds?
David Davis: Off the cuff, I cannot explain why Sweden did that. It was not just Sweden. As I have said, I talked to the Americans during the summer, and they were sceptical. I know that the hon. Gentleman is also sceptical of residential rehabilitation. There are other schemes that can work for some, but the predominant fact about residential rehabilitation, backed up by coercive measures, is that there is recognition of how difficult it is to get off drugs. What is proposed will have to be matched inside prisons.
Mr. Duncan Smith: One of the answers about Sweden is the budget pressure that it has had. The argument in Sweden takes place on the basis of how much more the residential care programmes delivered, given the extra effort put in, than non-residential programmes, and whether it was worth the extra money.
In the UK, I used to visit C-FAR in Devon, which worked with prison officers and the police. By taking people residentially, it has reduced reoffending among young offenders to under 40 per cent. in Devon as opposed to 73 per cent. nationwide.
I move on to the Government's latest proposal in clause 20, which is the intervention order. The Bill states that a new order can be made alongside an antisocial behaviour order when drug misuse has been the cause of behaviour that led to the ASBO being made. Government statistics show that 25 per cent. of people experience drug-related incidents of antisocial behaviour. The explanatory notes say that there are 15 million incidents of antisocial behaviour each year. That could mean nearly 4 million acts of potentially drug-related antisocial behaviour every year.
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The Government's estimate is that only 100 of the new intervention orders will be issued each year. That means that about one in 40,000 drug-related antisocial behaviours will be picked up. Even if it is 5 per cent., it will be one in 7,000. That is hardly going to solve the problem. The explanatory notes state that the cost of 100 orders will be £370,000. With 1 million hard drug users in the country, that is 37p a piece or about £1.50 per problem user. However, given that the Government have agreed to delay the commencement of that provision until April 2006, it will be rather meaningless for the next 15 months. It may be a good idea, but as it stands it is an inadequate measure that will be introduced too slowly and too late. If it is to be introduced, it must be done properly and immediately. There are problems today as well as in a year's time, when another generation of children will get hooked on class A drugs.
I am glad that the Government have not given up the war on drugs, but although we may not have lost it, we are not yet winning it. We will support the Bill today because it is a step in the right direction, albeit only a small one. The Bill does not reclassify cannabis, it does not require residential rehabilitation, and it does not encourage schools to test pupils. It does not set mandatory sentences for repeat drug dealers or provide for automatic custodial sentences for people dealing to children. The illusion of action is sometimes more dangerous than inaction. I hope that in Committee the Bill will be toughened up, and I am optimistic, following the Home Secretary's speech, that there will be tougher practical measures on drugs. So far, there has been a great deal of rhetoric but not enough action, and too many children are at risk in the country to allow that to go on any longer.
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