PCVC Ron Hogg
DRUG-RELATED deaths are at the highest level ever, and Durham’s Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner Ron Hogg is calling upon the Government to radically rethink its current approach to drug policy.
The Office of National Statistics has released the latest drug related deaths statistics for England and Wales. The highest mortality rate was seen in the North East, with 77.4 deaths per 1 million population, a 13% increase from 2015, compared to 42.9 deaths per million population in England.
Ron said: “I am deeply disappointed and saddened to see the results today.
“They are a true reflection of our failing drug policy. It does not reduce the harm caused by drugs and it does not save the lives of vulnerable people who use drugs. I have called on the Government to review the current UK drug policy, as it urgently needs to do more to save lives and reduce drug related-harm.”
Ron recently published the ‘Towards a Safer Drug Policy’ report, which sets out six policies aimed at reducing drug-related harm:
• Hold a fundamental review of UK Drugs Policy
• Ensure the approach is firmly based on evidence
• Support fully funded effective education and intervention
• Develop effective responses to reduce the harm
• Promote cost-effective specialist drug treatment and recovery as a proven way to reduce crime and make communities safer
• Protect the vulnerable by supporting alternatives to the criminalisation of people who use drugs and focus efforts on tackling the organised crime groups
“The only way to stop people dying from drugs” said Ron “is to reduce the harms that accompany drug use. Harms that at present, are greatly increased by the law as it stands.”
Ron believes that the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, the main law regulating drug control in the UK, is out of date and in need of a fundamental review.
Ron commented: “To reduce harmful drug use, we need to solve the problems that lead people into problematic patterns of use with these drugs in the first place and look to unlock the complexity of substance misuse. This requires a cultural shift in order to raise awareness about the devastating impact that drugs and alcohol can have on individuals, families and communities.
“If the Government is truly committed to evidence-based policy, it must look at the evidence and listen to its own expert body, the Advisory Council on Drug Misuse, which has already advised the Government on how to prevent drug-related deaths, in a report it released in December 2016.”
Notes to editors
Posted on Wednesday 2nd August 2017