Anti-drugs strategy needs guidance on black youth

The government’s anti-drugs strategy should do more to tackle
the problem of drug abuse among black youngsters, a conference was
told last week.

Leo Downer, a former director of the Brixton Drugs Project, told
deputy drugs tsar Mike Trace that the government must tighten up
its guidance and set specific goals for local drugs action teams to
address the issue of drug taking among ethnic minority young

“If it is left only at local authority level, it will not get
done,” Downer told Community Care.

Trace admitted to the conference, organised by the Young
People’s Health Network and the Home Office’s drugs prevention
advisory service, that the current guidelines on working with
minority groups were “a recipe for not much happening”. He said
guidance for drug action teams was deliberately not prescriptive on
the issue of dealing with minorities. But it does state that the
needs of those who may experience discrimination “should be taken
into account” by local agencies.

New guidelines will be published in the summer, though Trace
said it would need “a push” from drugs prevention workers if they
were to have a stronger focus on black and other minority young

Last month the Home Office published its latest guidance for
implementing the 10-year anti drugs strategy Tackling Drugs to
Build a Better Britain

“We hope we are giving a clearer statement of the things that
need to be done, and for the first time there is money behind it,”
said Trace.

Local drug action teams are being asked to draw up annual plans
outlining their services for combating substance abuse among
children and young people, and setting targets for future

The government is making an extra £152 million available
over the next three years for education, prevention and treatment
services for young people at risk from using drugs. The money will
be distributed via youth offending teams, health authorities,
schools and social services.

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