Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

The Phoney War on Drugs

The Centre for Policy Studies have publised a pamphlet, The Phoney War on Drugs.  Author Kathy Gyngell argues:

The state’s official drug messages to young people are similarly ambivalent – the aim being to achieve ‘harm reduction’ through education. Its key vehicle for achieving this aim is FRANK, an online interactive information and helpline service, whose literature is widely disseminated by schools and drugs charities. FRANK has been widely criticised for both misinformation and for being more concerned to place drug-taking in some kind of comfort zone of acceptable behaviour than addressing the risks or warning that it is against the law.

The whole document can be downloaded here.

Filed under: drug policy

Howard Parker on Young People and the ACCE Profile

Howard Parker

Via email I’ve had my attention brought to the Film Exchange on Alcohol and Drugs.

FEAD is an online resource that brings short video presentations from leading figures in the alcohol and drugs field direct to your screen. The contributors cover a range of topics honestly and directly – including: achievements, problem areas, and reflections on the field’s history.

One of the videos I’ve had the chance to watch is Professor Howard Parker talking about how young people’s drug use is changing.

You can watch what he says here.

Filed under: drug information, drug policy, treatment

LDPF Drug Strategy Guide

The latest version of the London Drug Policy Forum’s Drug Strategy Guide is available for download.

I’ve found it a very readable and accessible document and a really useful way of getting my head round some quite tangled policy and delivery mechanisms.

The National Drug Strategy - a guide for local partnerships

The National Drug Strategy - a guide for local partnerships

Filed under: drug policy, drug strategy,

Sir Alan Steer’s Report

Having had a frustrating day waiting for the report to go up on the DCSF website I’ve now been sent a scanned copy, which you can download here.

It’s not a long report, but here’s a quick summary of what Sir Alan says about drugs (including alcohol).

  • It is customary for schools to occasionally search pupils, but the law as it currently stands doesn’t give protection to schools or teachers.  He believes this should change so that they do have protection.
  • Searches should be with the consent of pupils, as a matter of good practice.  Where that consent is not forthcoming then the local police should be involved.
  • Searching should always be exercised with caution and if the power to do so is to be widened then there needs to be new guidance.  This guidance should make it clear that random searches should not happen [presumably this means with drug dogs too!]
  • School staff need training on recognising and dealing with situations of drug or alcohol misuse.
  • Drug education is imporant as a part of a wider prevention strategy.
  • Random drug testing isn’t likely to be effective and the government shouldn’t run a pilot.

My understanding is that the government has accepted all of these recommendations.

Filed under: drug policy, random drug testing, school drug policy,

National Policy Picture

I prepared this slide show as an aid to a presentation I did recently and thought it might be useful to others.

It isn’t comprehensive (for example I’ve not put anything about SEAL, or Aiming High in there) and I’ve not done justice to everything (Healthy Schools could have a slide to itself).  But I hope as a whiz through the current policy influences affecting the field, as well as a few of the research papers that I’ve found interesting over the last year or so, I hope it is helpful.

Let me know if there are gaps that you think should be filled.

Filed under: drug policy,

Increasing the number of young people on the path to success

The Drug Education Forum has produced a briefing note on the Public Service Agreements that affect services for children and young people around drug issues.

  • PSA 14, which will be trying to increase the number of children and young people on the path to success; and
  • PSA 25, which is aimed at reducing the harm caused by alcohol and drugs.

As will be clear from the way they are dealt with in this briefing paper PSA 14 is the more significant in terms of children and young people.

You can download the briefing paper here.

In The Guardian’s annalysis of the Comprehensive Spending Review I was interested to see this:

Behind all of the headline spending figures, the difference in this year’s pre-budget report and comprehensive spending review is the bonfire of targets.

The number of public service agreements (PSAs) has been slashed from 110 to 30. Instead of individual departmental targets, these new PSAs will be shared across Whitehall.

Filed under: drug policy, drug prevention, drug strategy, key documents,

Who is advising Gordon Brown?

Prospect have the full list of advisors at 10 Downing Street policy unit.  These are the ones I think may have an interest in young people and drug issues:

  • Nick Pearce (education, youth and strategy)
  • Katharine Raymond (drugs and equalities)

Nick Pearce comes from the IPPR and had previously been a special advisor to David Blunket, as was Katherine Raymond who also spent time at the Social Market Foundation.

Filed under: drug policy


I thought it would be helpful to let you have the list of government ministers who as I understand it have responsibilities around  drugs or drug education.


Jim Knight MP – National curriculum 5-19, including assessment and liaison with QCA

Kevin Brennan MP – Health issues including school food, Healthy Schools, obesity, drugs and alcohol

Lord Andrew Adonis – Pupil health and safety

Department of Health

Rt Hon Dawn Primarolo MP- Minister of State for Public Health

Home Office

Vernon Coaker MP – Under-Secretary of State

Filed under: drug policy, drug strategy

Substance misuse: Impact of drugs policy explored

The impact of drug policies on young offenders and black and minority ethnic communities is to be investigated by the UK Drug Policy Commission.

The independent body, which launched in April, will commission research on the impact of policies on the groups in its first detailed studies.

Young People Now

Filed under: drug policy, research, Uncategorized

We’re fighting on the wrong front in the ‘drugs war’

The Times has a comment piece on the UK Drugs Policy Commission. Which says that the Commission:

intends to find which of the government schemes and initiatives work. In short? None of them. Talk to Frank? Talk to this finger. There is £9 million down the tubes for a start. Who would want to talk to Frank? Is that brat jumping on the bed Frank? Then who is Frank? I bet it’s that b****** in the Halifax adverts. He looks the type.

Popular logic states we need to educate young people about drugs. No, we need to educate them about education. We need to raise those standards and, by doing so, create opportunities and intellects that may see drugs as a diversion, but not a career, and certainly nothing requiring a declaration of war.

I don’t think we’d disagree with what the author writes in that last paragraph; except to point out that it’s a misconception to think that drug education is just about getting children and young people to be able to list all sorts of drugs and their legal status. The best drug education helps young people to think about complex moral questions, helps them develop their ability to take decisions, and provides them with context about what others of their age group are doing and thinking.

Filed under: drug policy

About this blog

This blog tries to pick up relevant media and research stories about drug education. It mainly focuses on information in England as this is the geographical remit for the Drug Education Forum. We welcome comments that are on topic.

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July 2021