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That is a cursory summary of responses to views expressed during the debate. I am conscious of the time and of the many questions that were asked during the course of the discussion. I shall try to answer some of them if the House will indulge me for a few more moments.
I want to make a point in reply to the query of the noble Baroness, Lady Hanham, regarding the consultation being on the Home Office website, because it was a fair point. Of course, we will publish and widely communicate the new drug strategy and I am sure that there will be more debates of this sort. We will also be making available through various means a summary of the consultation responses in line with the Cabinet Office codes of practice. It is important that we seek to do that.
The drug strategy itself comes to an end in March 2008, and we contend that there have been successes in terms of prevention, education, early intervention, treatment and enforcement. There is evidence to support that contention. I know that we have had a lot of statistics pushed into the debate this evening, but the British Crime Survey data for 2006-07 show that class A drug use among young people remains stable while the use of any illegal drug in the past year has fallen compared with 1998down from 31.8 to 24.1 per cent. We argue that there is success. Schools survey data also show that for 11 to 15 year-olds, the use of any drug within the past year has fallen by some 17 per cent.
In terms of our strategy for treatment, record numbers of drug users are entering and staying in treatmentmore than 195,000 in the past financial year. That is a 130 per cent increase on the 1998-99 baseline. A national treatment target of 170,000 people receiving treatment has been exceeded two years earlier than anticipated and we are on track to meet our target to direct 1,000 offenders a week into treatment through the criminal justice system.
Those are bold figures and I know that some noble Lords were critical of the treatment methods and techniques and argued for particular strategies to be adopted. I was interested in particular by the reference by the noble Lords, Lord Ramsbotham and Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe, and others to the need to do far more in terms of residential treatment. I certainly do not disagree with that. It is certainly part of the
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The noble Lord, Lord Adebowale, made a plea for what he described as wrap-around services. The Government are committed to ensuring that drug treatment is effective and that means that we make every effort to ensure that services are in place to support the gains made through treatment. It is certainly important to ensure, particularly with drug misusing offenders, that they receive support when they are released into the community and we need comprehensively to address that issue. That is part of our National Reducing Re-offending Delivery Plan and certainly part of our drug interventions programme, which aims to do exactly that.
Employment and benefit surgeries operate throughout the prison estate in England, Wales and Scotland. Jobcentre Plus advisers see prisoners on a one-to-one basis at both the induction and pre-release stages of their custodial sentence and provide help and support as do the other agencies. The Prospects programme is a three-year pilot programme which aims to reduce reoffending among drug misusing offenders who have been sentenced to 18 months imprisonment or less. That programme plays an important part in ensuring that we provide wrap-around treatment, because we recognise the importance of ensuring that there is proper after-care service for those who are released back into the community.
I was interested in particular in the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Jay, on our strategy in Afghanistan. It is something on which we expect there to be continued debate over time, and the noble Lord was right to draw attention to the important comments made last week by my noble friend Lord Malloch-Brown when responding on the issue of Afghani opium production. I repeat what has been said before: it is an issue for the Government of Afghanistan. We have to recognise that the poor security situation in the country means that there can be no guarantee that opium will not be smuggled out for the illicit narcotics trade. We agree with and support the Government of Afghanistans position and we are a designated partner nation to counter narcotics. We do not believe that licensing opium cultivation is a realistic solution to the problem of the opium economy in Afghanistan. It risks a high level of diversion of licit opium into illegal channels and would send a mixed message to farmers, undermining the effectiveness of the Afghanistan Governments counter-narcotics campaign. We think that illicit cultivation could increase as a result.
There is also a question of whether it would be economically viable. As I said earlier, there has not been any systematic market testing across the world to calculate the demand for additional morphine-based medicines and as yet there is no evidence to show that
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Lord Jay of Ewelme: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for giving way. Does he agree that those are exactly the sort of issues which ought now to be examined so that we can make a better, evidence-based assessment of whether there is a case, in the longer term, for controlled poppy cultivation in Afghanistan?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, it is a fair point to argue, and it may well be that there is a case for more research work, but it is important for us to support the Government on the ground. With all the problems the Afghanistan Government have to face, we owe them that. Our role is a valuable one. Indeed, in his speech the noble Lord referred to some of the valiant work being undertaken in support of that programme. Indeed, there have been some successes in terms of disrupting the drugs trade by targeting traffickers and trying to strengthen and diversify legal rural livelihoods. I see that as a strong point. I recognise that this is an issue, but it is a not strategy that we see ourselves agreeing with. However, we should perhaps review it from time to time.
Quite a lot of comment was made about insisting on an abstinence-based drug treatment approach. I understand the strength of feeling behind that. The noble Baroness and my noble friend Lord Brooke both referred to it. In fairness, one should observe that treatment is based on the assessed needs of individuals, and treatment plans are designed to meet those needs. We have to ensure that treatment programmes set out a plan to include the right sort of goal. That might be abstinence or, in the case of entrenched users, the prescription of substitute medication. I understand that that is a controversial view for some, but in certain cases there needs to be a managed change of behaviour. The use of substitute medication can play a part in that.
Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe: My Lords, I should like to intervene briefly on that. I believe that a whole variety of solutions have to be employed in assisting individual addicts, but the increasing concern of many people is that the view on abstinence within the industry, so to speak, is that in many respects it is opposed to it. Many people on methadone have told me that they are never given the opportunity to try to get clean.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the noble Lord makes a valid point which, in a sense, is a reflection of the debate. There are no easy answers for individuals and we must ensure that there is a range of treatment programmes available to facilitate people getting off drugs over time, away from the dangers that drugs bring to their lives and repairing the damage that they can do.
I am conscious that I have a sheaf of notes left which contains references to points and questions raised. However, because of the lateness of the hour and having been told that I have already run over time, I shall put together the other questions that have
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This has been a good debate. Although many views are at variance with the Governments stated policy, it is important that we should continue to have debates such as this, not least because we may find some more answers to a problem which, for sure, is not going to go away. It is a part of a very complex set of issues
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