Fears that the Drugs Bill is being used as ‘political vote winner’

    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
    worker.

    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
    agenda.”

    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
    alternative proposals.

    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
    including GPs.

     

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