A new cross-government unit aimed at combating misuse of drugs has been set up to help eliminate illegal drug-related illness and deaths.
The new ‘Joint Combating Drugs Unit’ will bring together multiple government departments – including the Department of Health and Social Care, Home Office, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Department for Work and Pensions, Department for Educati on, and Ministry of Justice – to help tackle drugs misuse across society.
This new approach accepts that treatment alone is not enough and that a wider support, including with housing and employment, is essential to help recovery of those at the receiving end.
There are now an estimated 300,000 opiate or crack users in England with around one million people using cocaine per year. Drug misuse poisoning deaths have increased by nearly 80 per cent since 2012.
The formation of the new unit comes as professor Dame Carol Black publishes the second part of her ;independent review of drugs’, which sets out more than 30 recommendations to help overcome the harm drugs have caused to individuals, families, and communities across the country.
The report calls for significant investment in the drug treatment and recovery system so that more people can get the support they need.
Health secretary Sajid Javid said: “Tackling this issue requires strong collaboration across government, and the new specialist Joint Combating Drugs Unit will help us to do just that.”
“I would like to thank Professor Dame Carol for her dedication to this critical work and for producing this accomplished review.”
The review recommends the government must work together to improve treatment, employment, housing support, and the way people with addictions are treated in the criminal justice system.
It recommends addiction be recognised as a chronic health condition, requiring long-term follow up.
As per the report, there’s an urgent need to reinforce the treatment workforce to raise standards and restore morale, while national leadership needs to be strengthened to reduce supply and help people get off and stay off drugs.
Professor Dame Carol Black said: “Drug deaths are at an all-time high and drug addiction fuels many costly social problems, including homelessness and rising demands on children’s social care.”
Dame Carol continued: “A whole-system approach is needed and this part of my review offers concrete proposals, deliverable within this parliament, to achieve this.”
Home secretary Priti Patel welcomed the landmark review by Dame Carol and said, the government remains absolutely committed to addressing this issue.
“We are taking action to deliver lasting change through the new Joint Combating Drugs Unit – which will bring together all parts of government to tackle the scourge of illegal drugs – as well as investing £148 million this year to cut drugs crime and improve treatment and recovery services.”