Press release

New drugs strategy

Recovery revolution backed by tough enforcement is central to new drugs strategy

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

An ambitious new strategy with an uncompromising drive to crack down on those involved in the drugs trade, at the same time as revolutionising treatment services to offer recovery as a route out of dependency, was unveiled today by minister for crime prevention James Brokenshire.

In a major policy shift, the strategy puts drug free recovery at the heart of the Government’s response and puts more responsibility on individuals to seek help and overcome their dependency.

The new cross-government approach will also see a renewed focus on reducing demand and restricting supply through:

  • taking more action to seize the assets of those involved in the drugs trade, both at home and abroad
  • giving teachers greater powers to search and confiscate drugs and alcohol in schools
  • encouraging people who have been successful in conquering their own addiction to build a nationwide network of ‘recovery champions’ who can inspire others in their neighbourhoods to join them on the road to recovery

Home Office minister quote

James Brokenshire said: ‘Drugs ruin lives and cause misery to families and communities across the country. There are no quick fixes, what we want to achieve is a generational shift, to get people to take responsibility for their actions and free themselves from the vicious cycle of drug and alcohol dependency.

‘Today’s message is clear, simply focusing on reducing the harms cause by illicit drug use is no longer enough - we must focus on recovery as the most effective route out of dependency.

‘We will also tighten the net on unscrupulous drug dealers, introduce temporary banning orders to allow us to take immediate action against new legal highs, protect vulnerable young people by preventing them from falling into a cycle of dependency, and encourage record numbers into treatment.’
Power and accountability to tackle drugs and the harms they cause will be passed to local areas. With the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners, the reform of the NHS and the creation of Public Health England, local partnerships will be responsible for designing and commissioning services that meet the needs of their communities. 

Route out of dependence

Public health minister Anne Milton said: ‘It is vital we do all we can to prevent people using drugs in the first place. Those who do must have access to the services they need to help them to re-build their lives and contribute productively to society.

‘Recovery is at the heart of our new approach. As set out in our White Paper, the system will be locally owned and led by Directors of Public Health and local government. We will work with individuals and their families to offer them a clear route to out of dependence.

‘But we are keen to do more. That is why we will work with local areas to pilot a payment by results scheme to incentivise recovery and drive success.’

The strategy also sets out a new holistic approach to supporting people dependant on drug or alcohol, not just through treatment, but also by addressing offending, employment and housing issues, all of which are closely linked to drug or alcohol abuse.

Help for benefit claimants

Work and pensions minister, Maria Miller, said: ‘This strategy will take a holistic approach to helping benefit claimants beat their drug and alcohol dependency, so they have every chance of competing in today’s labour market.

‘Those who decide to go into treatment will be offered every support to help overcome their addiction, but those who refuse it will face the same benefit sanctions as every other jobseeker.

‘Our welfare reforms will support this strategy by making sure that work always pays.’

We will:

  • ensure greater use of asset recovery powers by freeing up law enforcement officers’ time to revisit unpaid confiscation orders and pursue assets held overseas
  • strengthen links between domestic and international enforcement agencies through the Serious Organised Crime Agency, and then the National Crime Agency from 2013
  • introduce immediate powers to temporarily ban the latest ‘legal highs’ as soon as they become a cause for concern and with tough penalties for those caught trafficking or supplying temporarily banned substances
  • introduce an early warning system to help us stop potentially harmful new drugs gaining a foot hold in the UK. This will see Government and the scientific community work together to proactively identify emerging drugs using a range of methods including test purchasing, laboratory testing and analysis of police seizures
  • give headteachers and authorised school staff the statutory power to search without consent anyone who is suspected of carrying alcohol or controlled drugs (power introduced 1 September 2010). Ministers will seek to extend this to include legal highs
  • introduce payment by results pilot in six areas rewarding those agencies that successfully break people’s drug dependency
  • introduce a network of ‘Community Recovery Champions’ - people  who have recovered from their drug dependency and will take on a mentoring role to others seeking help
  • reshape drug treatment services in prisons to focus on recovery and improve continuity of treatment in the community following release
  • offer dependants a choice between tough sanctions when they refuse treatment and are then unable to meet the normal conditions of benefit receipt; and tailored support to get them back to work where they do choose treatment
  • continue to rely on the expert and independent advice of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Dugs to inform drugs policy
  • identify those in trouble and direct them towards help - midwives and Jobcentre Plus advisors will play a key role in this

Working across government to reduce demand through prevention, restricting supply through tough enforcement and supporting individuals into recover, will help us achieve our goal of stronger, safer communities free from the harm of drugs.

Notes to editor

1. A copy of the Drug Strategy can be found on this website.

2. A copy of the Drug Strategy consultation, which was carried out between 20 August and 30 September 2010, can be found in the publications section of this website.

3. To support the delivery of the Drug Strategy, the Home Office and Department of Health will jointly be announcing the funding for tackling drug misuse for 2011/12 later this month; this will include local partnership’s indicative budgets for the Drug Interventions Programme.

4. The recruitment of an additional 4,200 health visitors by 2015 will help ensure vulnerable families are supported to give their children the best possible start in life.

5. Homelessness is a contributing factor to drug dependency and we will be providing £400 million up until 2014 to prevent and tackle it.

6. For further information on temporary banning powers, please visit the press release section of this wesite.

7. For further information on recovery champions, Payment by Results or Public Health England please contact the Department of Health press office on 020 7210 5221.

8. For any further information please contact the Home Office press office on 020 7035 3535.

Published 8 December 2010