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EDITIONS
Drugs Wednesday, 20 May, 1998, 02:24 GMT 03:24 UK
A strategy for tackling drugs
The government wants to galvanise people into fighting the drugs problem
The government wants to galvanise people into fighting the drugs problem
The Drugs White Paper, published by the government in April, was produced after an intense consultation process carried out by the UK's new Anti-Drugs Co-ordinator, Keith Hellawell.

He toured the country with his deputy, Mike Trace, and spoke to numerous groups dealing with the drugs problem on the street - including the 105 Drugs Action Teams, set up under the last government to lead policy at local level.

The government took Mr Hellawell's report and incorporated it into a strategy that will affect only England. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are renewing their drugs strategies separately.

The White Paper - Tackling Drugs to Build a Better Britain - builds on policies set out three years ago. It proposes a 10-yer programme:

  • channeling seized assets from drug dealers into anti-drug work (last year the value of assets was 5 million)
  • giving all children aged 5 to 16 drugs education
  • piloting drug treatment and testing orders for offenders
  • setting targets for reducing drug misuse based on evidence
  • shifting resources from reacting to the problem to prevention

The White Paper has four broad themes: young people, communities, drug treatment and drugs availability. The key objectives are:

  • to reduce the proportion of people under 25 using illegal drugs
  • to reduce the level of re-offending among drug misusing offenders
  • to increase the participation of problem drug misusers, including prisoners, in drug treatment programmes
  • to reduce the access to drugs among 5-16 year olds

"A fresh approach"

In the Crime and Disorder Bill already going through Parliament, the government is planning to introduce new drug treatment and testing provision.

Ann Taylor: problems not irreversible
Offenders who commit crimes to feed their drug addiction will be made the subjects of drug treatment and testing orders, requiring them to undergo treatment under the supervision of the probation service.

The government has estimated that it will cost 40 million to implement the drug treatment and testing provision. It is being piloted in three areas at a cost of 1m.

When the Leader of the House of Commons, Anne Taylor, announced the White Paper, she said the drug problem was not irreversible and that a fresh approach was needed to galvanise people into action.

"Drugs damage health as well as education and employment prospects. Drugs problems wreck families and relationships.

"Drugs are a major contributing factor to the crime which undermines communities and gets in the way of progress and prosperity.

"The problems do remain acute and a fresh long-term approach is now needed to bring new energy and action to tackle these challenges."

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Leader of the Commons Ann Taylor calls for concerted action (1' 20")
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