Drugs charities have accused the government of using the new
Drugs Bill as a “political vote winner” for the next
election rather than focussing on effective treatment and
prevention, writes Maria Ahmed.
Critics are concerned that drugs legislation is being placed
“at the centre” of the crime reduction agenda and warn
that it will not lead to improved care.
The Drugs Bill, which is currently waiting for a second reading,
will introduce powers to test drug offenders on arrest and require
those who test positive to undergo an assessment by a drugs
Other proposals will strengthen the law against drug dealers by
giving the police greater powers, and put people on antisocial
behaviour orders with drug misuse problems in treatment.
A source from one charity said: “This is part of an
election strategy to put drugs into the heart of the criminal
justice manifesto instead of a broader social welfare and health
Charities including Drugscope and Turning Point are concerned
the bill, unveiled last month in the Queen’s Speech, could be
rushed too quickly through parliament, and are lobbying for
They are calling for the bill to include proposals on meeting
complex needs such as mental health, better after-care, greater use
of heroin prescribing and more investment in staff training