Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Parliamentary Written Answers

Hansard carries a couple of questions to the Home Office (and their answers) that may be of interest.  First up one which is pretty broad:

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent steps the Government has taken to reduce levels of illegal drug consumption.

Mr. Coaker: In February, the Government published the new 10-year drug strategy, Drugs: protecting families and communities, which sets out the action that will be taken to address the harms caused by drug misuse and to reduce levels of drug consumption. This strategy builds on the successes of the previous drug strategy, focusing action where it will generate the greatest benefit and extending the reach and effectiveness of our interventions.

Since the introduction of the previous strategy in 1998, we have seen significant falls in the self-reported use of illegal drugs. Data from the British Crime Survey show that in 2007-08, compared to 1997, the proportion of respondents aged 16-59 reporting the use of any illegal drug in the year preceding the survey fell from 12.1 per cent. to 9.3 per cent., while the proportion reporting the use of class A drugs remained stable. The same data show us that, compared to the previous year, there have been significant reductions in the use of cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines and cannabis.

This pattern is repeated among young people. Data from the survey show that, among young people aged 16-24, class A drug use has fallen from 8.6 per cent. in 1997 to 6.8 per cent. in 2007-08, while the use of any illegal drug has fallen from 31.8 per cent. to 21.3 per cent. over the same period. Again, there have been falls in the use of individual drugs compared to the previous year, including cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines and cannabis.

The drug strategy takes a comprehensive approach to reducing the demand for, and consumption of, illegal drugs. This approach spans:

  • prevention activity through more effective drug education and information, and through early targeted interventions with the families and young people who are most at risk of developing problems; interventions through the criminal justice system where problematic drug misuse has led to offending, coupled with tough enforcement action to tackle the supply of illegal drugs;
  • effective treatment and support, to help people to overcome problems with drugs and to re-establish their lives; and
  • communications activity, to support parents in preventing drug use among their children, and to increase the confidence and resilience of communities.

Copies of the drug strategy were placed in the Library at the time of its publication and I refer my hon. Friend to the actions in the strategy which are being taken to reduce the use of illegal drugs.

Here’s one on consultations:

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what (a) listening exercises and (b) public forums her Department has held in each of the last two years; and what the (i) purpose, (ii) cost, (iii) private contractor and (iv) amount paid to the private contractor was in each case.

Mr. Byrne: Listening exercises and public forums were held on Citizenship, Immigration and Integration; “Tackling Drugs—Changing Lives”; Crime and Drugs Strategy; Counter Terrorism community visits; Drugs Consultation; Young People Consultation; and Schools Pack Conferences.

The purpose of these events was to gain public feedback to inform the Green Paper on “The Path to Citizenship”; to gain feedback for the next drug strategy; for Ministers to hear and learn from the concerns of community members they meet; to inform, support and mobilise stakeholders to deliver on new crime and drugs strategies; to listen to the views of young people on drug issues; and to disseminate Understanding Drugs pack and pupil booklet to educational practitioners responsible for delivery of school-based drug education lessons.

To gain the information on the costs, contractors, and amounts paid to private contractors for each event could be obtained only at disproportionate cost, as this data is not recorded separately on the Department’s accounting systems.

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