10 year strategy to tackle drugs 1998


My comment:

Traditional drugs are excluded from Government's drugs policy without comment or explanation. 'Drug' risks (non-traditional drugs) are not analysed in terms of voluntary risks and risks imposed on others and no assessment of benefits is made as recommended by Government guidelines on risk assessment. Scientific evidence that the use of 'drugs' is not harmless is used to justify prohibition, though all activities risk harm. The 'drugs' policy is not assessed according to any Government guidelines on regulatory/policy appraisal.




Action will be concentrated in areas of greatest need and risk. All drugs are harmful and enforcement against all illegal substances will continue. And we will focus on those that cause the greatest damage, including heroin and cocaine. Partnership is the key to the new approach, building on the good work that has already been done.

The strategy has four elements:
Young People - to help young people resist drug misuse in order to achieve their full potential in society;
Communities - to protect our communities from drug-related anti-social and criminal behaviour;
Treatment - to enable people with drug problems to overcome them and live healthy and crime-free lives;
Availability - to stifle the availability of illegal drugs on our streets.

In the first year of the strategy, clear, consistent and rigorous targets will be set to help achieve our aims. The performance of the Government and its agencies therefore will be readily measurable against these targets.

The way ahead:

We need to ensure that young people have all the information they need to make informed decisions about drugs; that we follow up tough words with decisive action; and that there really is proper partnership to tackle the problem.

Report of The UK Anti-Drugs Coordinator:

The focus of this document is on illegal drugs as determined by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. However it is clear to me that legally obtainable substances such as alcohol, tobacco, solvents and prescribed drugs used without medical control have close links with illegal drugs problems and should therefore be addressed, as appropriate, within the strategy.
Drug misuse in the late 1990s poses many problems for our society. Research suggests that there are all kinds of reasons for misuse; that key factors include unemployment, low self esteem, educational failure, boredom and physical, psychological or family problems. Even where the cause relates more to experimentation or enjoyment, or to a shift from alcohol or tobacco, the fact is that overtly mind-altering substances have greater pull than other activities. And many people misuse drugs because they don't have the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives.

Every three years, we need to have a systematic and comprehensive appraisal of the strategy's impact based on independent evaluations, and adjust the way forward accordingly. The importance of rigorous evaluation cannot be overstated.

Principles of Government's drug policy:

"The Underlying Principles of The Strategy:
Drug problems do not occur in isolation. They are often tied in with other social problems. The Government is tackling inequalities through the largest-ever programme to get people off benefit and into work and a series of reforms in the welfare state, education, health, criminal justice and the economy. And a new Social Exclusion Unit is looking at many of the problems often associated with drug taking such as school exclusions, truancy, rough sleeping and poor housing. It is important to remember these connections, and that key results in other areas of activity, such as general take-up rates for further and higher education and employment, relate clearly to the development of this strategy.
Evidence. Drug misuse can be a highly-charged subject. Learning about an illicit activity can be difficult but our strategy must be based on accurate, independent research, approached in a level-headed, analytical fashion.
Joint Action. Partnership is not an end in itself, and can be an excuse for blurring responsibilities and inactivity. But the evidence is that joint action - if managed effectively - has a far greater impact on the complex drugs problem than disparate activities.
Consistency of Action. While activities must relate to local circumstances and priorities, drugs misuse is a national problem requiring fairness and consistency in our response.
Effective Communication. We need to be clear and consistent in the messages we send to young people and to society in particular, the importance of reinforcing at every opportunity that drug-taking can be harmful.
Accountability. Through the Coordinator's Annual Report and Plan of Action Against Drugs, we can dispassionately and objectively track progress. The structures, resources and performance mechanisms set out in this report exist solely for that purpose, so that we can be sure our achievements are real".