The government must reverse cuts to its flagship scheme helping drug-using offenders ahead of the new Home Office drug strategy next year, Westminster Council has said.
As the Home Office published a consultation on the strategy this week, the council called for the government to reinvest money in the Drug Interventions Programme (DIP) that has been running since 2003.
In April, the Home Office slashed national DIP funding from £172m in 2006-7 to £149m for 2007-8.
Westminster, which runs the largest DIP in the country, said this had led to a reduction of £3.5m across London alone including a £300,000 reduction in its own DIP funding.
The government pledged an extra £5.65m for drug awareness as it published its consultation, but councillor Audrey Lewis, Westminster Council’s cabinet member for community protection, accused the Home Office of “giving with one hand and taking with the other”.
“If the government wants to tackle drugs what better way to do it than by investing in a programme [DIP] which has helped cut theft, burglary and robbery linked to drug use by more than 20% in just four years,” she said.
A Home Office spokesman said DIP funding had initially included money for “start-up costs” since DIPs began, but this was no longer needed.
He said the current 10-year drug strategy, which is due to end next March, had received overall funding of £9bn. The spokesman added that the government was “keen to have an open debate” on the new strategy. The consultation cited figures showing that more than 75,000 offenders have been referred into treatment though the DIP since 2003.