I’ve welcomed Government funding announcement for drug treatment this week.
The Government announcement that £80 million of extra funding will be made available for drug treatment as part of a larger funding package to reduce drug related crime.
The £80 million is new money and is being made available to enhance drug treatment, focussing on reducing drug-related crime and stopping the rise in drug related deaths.
I welcome today’s announcement from Government. Drug offences are one of the few offences to increase during the period of lockdown during 2020, with a 32% increase recorded in West Mercia and 682 offences recorded last quarter alone.
“It is a sad fact that in West Mercia, drug use claims more lives than road traffic collisions, and leaves families devastated. Between 2015 and 2017 there were 187 drug related deaths in West Mercia, which constitutes a 30% increase compared to a decade ago. Furthermore, the cost to communities runs into millions. As commissioner, I have promised to work with partners to address the root causes of drug abuse in our communities.
My drug strategy emphasises the importance of treatment to improve public health and crime connected to drug use. This approach has been adopted from strong evidence that supports a link between drug treatment and reductions in offending, helping users recover and diverting them away from criminality.
Funding which will enhance drug treatment, focus on reducing drug-related crime and stop the rise in drug related deaths will have a positive effect on local policing and the communities of West Mercia.
- There were 685 drug offences recorded in West Mercia in the last quarter of 2020. Drug offences are one of the few crime types that have increased during the lockdown period, associated with an increase in proactive policing activity.
- In West Mercia there was a 32% increase in drug offences recorded between Apr – Dec 2020 compared to the same period last year.
- I launched a drug strategy in 2019 setting out how the I will deliver on my responsibilities as Commissioner in a policing and crime context, and how I will work with partners to address root causes of drug abuse in our communities. This includes a focus on building recovery.
- The strategy sets out the importance of treatment to improve public health and crime outcomes. There is strong evidence to link drug treatment to reductions in offending. Drug treatment prevents an estimated 4.9 million crimes nationally every year.
- In 2018 there were an estimated 6,000 opiate and/or crack cocaine users in West Mercia, at an approximate total cost to society of £265m. National and local estimates suggest that only 50% of opiate users in need of specialist treatment are receiving it.
- There were 187 drug related deaths in West Mercia between 2015 and 2017, an average of 62 deaths per year. This is 30% higher than a decade ago, and accounts for more lives lost in the area than road traffic collisions.
- Drugs were the primary type of criminality for the majority of organised crime groups in West Mercia last quarter (51% of our OCGs).