Services for drug addicts in Wales are grossly inadequate and
the lack of treatment available is leading to more drug-related
crime, delegates at the Welsh Local Government Association annual
conference heard last week.
Chief constable of north Wales police, Richard Brunstrom, told
the conference in Llandudno that arresting drug users was not the
answer to stemming the “tidal wave” of crime linked to illegal drug
He said research showed that treatment worked, but that
provision for users was “grossly inadequate”, and that there was
too much emphasis on enforcement.
Brunstrom added that the situation was not helped by lack of
leadership and organisation from the Welsh assembly, which he
believed had a “duty and right” to implement effective strategies
to help treat the estimated 10,000 drug addicts in Wales.
“It is relatively easy for the police to arrest drug users, but
we cannot target everyone and there is no possibility of containing
the drugs trade. We have to work on education and treatment
programmes,” he said.
Brunstrom told the conference that his own police authority was
already spending some of its budget on helping addicts kick their
habit, and called for much more joint working across agencies to
tackle the problem.
“We need a seamless process that is shared across agencies with
joint commissioning and effective prioritisation, with bold and
courageous decisions taken where people are brave enough to spend
money on other people’s problems,” he said.
In an answer to a question on the link between crime and illegal
drug use, Brunstrom said that, under tightly controlled
circumstances, those who were “hopelessly addicted” could be
prescribed heroin so that they would not commit crime to fund their
Lynda Thorne, deputy spokesperson on community safety at the
WLGA, said it was important to make the connection between drugs,
crime and poverty, and that tackling illegal drugs meant addressing
deprivation and promoting social inclusion.