About Project ADDER

Updated 31 October 2023

About the programme

Through Project ADDER (Addiction, Diversion, Disruption, Enforcement and Recovery) we are piloting a whole-system response to combatting drug misuse in 13 hardest hit areas across England and Wales.

The programme was mobilised in autumn 2020, before the publication of the government’s 10 year drug strategy, to test innovative new approaches to tackling drugs misuse. Learning from this programme continues to inform the implementation of the drug strategy.

We committed a total £59 million investment for Project ADDER between 2020 to 2023. Through the drug strategy we have committed to extending criminal justice funding for Project ADDER for two more years, until 2025.

The programme focuses on co-ordinated law enforcement activity, alongside expanded diversionary programmes (such as Out of Court Disposal orders), using the criminal justice system to divert people away from offending.

As a pathfinder programme, Project ADDER is underpinned by a robust monitoring and evaluation framework, building the evidence base to inform our longer-term strategic approach. This includes an independent evaluation to be carried out by Kantar Public.

We have worked closely with the police and local authority treatment commissioners in each area to coproduce detailed delivery plans, taking into account local need with a focus on a whole-system response with enhanced partnership working.


The programme seeks to ensure that more people get effective treatment, with enhanced treatment and recovery provision, including housing and employment support, and improved communication between treatment providers and courts, prisons, and hospitals.

Over the lifespan of the programme, we have 4 overarching aims:

  • to reduce drug-related death
  • to reduce drug-related offending
  • to reduce the prevalence of drug use
  • sustained and major disruption of high-harm criminals and networks involved in middle market drug/firearms supply and importation

Programme locations

The first Project ADDER locations were launched in January 2021 in some of the areas hardest hit in England and Wales. These are:

  • Blackpool
  • Hastings
  • Middlesbrough
  • Norwich
  • Swansea Bay

Building on this approach, the government announced an expansion of the programme in July 2021, to include:

  • Bristol
  • Newcastle
  • Wakefield
  • two London boroughs (Tower Hamlets and Hackney)
  • three local authorities in Liverpool City Region (Liverpool City, Knowsley, Wirral)