Tackling Drugs, Changing Lives
Government 2004




Since 1998 consistent and focused action has been undertaken to tackle drug misuse. We have already advanced far beyond a time when there was little or no drugs education in schools, a lack of accessible and credible advice, limited treatment provision and long waiting times.

In order to succeed, we must continue to:

  • Reduce availability – putting drug dealers out of business: by helping source countries tackle production, taking action to disrupt international traffickers, regional drug barons and local street dealers. There will be an increased emphasis on joint working between enforcement agencies, intelligence development and sharing, effective policing and confiscating the proceeds of drug dealing.
  • Preventing people from using drugs: stopping young people and others from taking drugs, through a range of measures including prohibition, education, support and targeted interventions for them and their families. In particular, help will be made available early for those young people most at risk of developing long-term drug misuse.

We will

  • introduce legislation to provide tougher powers for the police and the courts in tackling drug dealers so that more of them will be brought to justice;


  • No grip on drug-using offenders
  • An estimated 100,000 contacts made with drug treatment services, with long waiting times for access to structured care
  • Lack of quality drug education
  • Enforcement activity shows little impact on drugs in our communities


Reducing availability: putting drug dealers out of business

The availability of drugs and drug dealing on our streets is often accompanied by violence, disruption, harassment and intimidation within the communities where it takes place. It can seriously damage the quality of life in some of our most deprived communities. Ready availability makes it easier for young people to develop into problematic drug users, and harder for ex-drug users to stay clean. It also sustains problematic drug users, who in turn damage themselves, their families and their communities, as well as society more widely. The Government’s action to reduce the supply of drugs is therefore directed to generate a sustained impact on the supply of Class A drugs to the UK, and availability within its communities.


Preventing people from using drugs

Preventing today’s young people, especially the most vulnerable, from becoming tomorrow’s drug misusers is a key target within the Government’s Drug Strategy. If we are to be effective in helping young people avoid drug problems, and reach the five outcomes for wellbeing outlined in Every Child Matters, we need a new approach. We need to ensure that effective universal services are provided and focus on early intervention and support for the key risk groups – the children of drug-misusing parents; school excludees and truants; young people who are looked after by social services; and young offenders. This means not only developing specialist drugs provision but ensuring that generic children and young people’s services are fully committed to identifying and intervening, in order to tackle drug misuse problems before they become acute. Most young people do not use illegal drugs. Serious drug use by young people has been stabilised after years in which it had steadily increased. This is encouraging, but a real downward shift has still to be achieved. Early substance misuse interventions are strongly embedded as a core priority in the work of Youth Offending Teams. We need to build on this to improve the provision of early intervention through the Change for Children programme so that mainstream agencies can do more to prevent drug misuse earlier on.