Drug crackdown brings closure of 1,300 county lines in 12 months but good work must continue, says PCC.

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August 29, 2023

Police and Crime Commissioner Joy Allen has welcomed national progress to crackdown on county lines and boost treatment referrals for people living with addiction - but warned further results were needed.

The government has published its first annual report on the delivery of the ten-year ‘Harm to Hope’ strategy, mapping out key successes in the prevention, treatment and recovery of illegal drugs supply across the UK.

The PCC, who is Joint Lead for Addictions and Substance Misuse on behalf of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC), is a lead delivery partner on the strategy and sits on a national ministerial board to help drive the delivery of drugs reform over the next 10 years.

The report reveals 1,300 county lines have been closed (65 per cent) across the UK in the year 2022-23 with more than 2,000 arrests and 3,200 safeguarding referrals made.

In addition, figures show a 4.6 per cent increase in the number of people going into residential rehab and a 26 per cent increase in the number of people having an inpatient stay in a specialist unit to detox from drugs and alcohol.

Since the investment of £96m of government funding to local authorities in 2022/23 and £155m in 2023-24, the drug and alcohol treatment workforce has increased by 1,670 additional staff including 1,255 drug and alcohol workers, 479 of whom are focused on criminal justice.

Commenting on the results, Commissioner Allen said: “I welcome these results, particularly the increased uptake of treatment and support from offenders. Many offenders commit crimes purely to support their addictions and I have been fighting very hard to ensure the criminal justice system offers the professional support and help these individuals need to address their dependencies and stop offending.

“This report shows an eight per cent increase in referrals into treatment from the criminal justice system and a 4.5 per cent rise in the number of prison leavers who continue their treatment post-release. Furthermore, over 40 health and justice partnership coordinators have been recruited across the probation service. This is a strong start but there is more to do, and I will continue to track the progress of this strategy whilst steering local improvements to ensure our approach to drug harm remains as effective as possible.

“I am also pleased the government is continuing to consider legislative changes to enable greater access to take-home naloxone for people at risk of overdose death across the UK. Durham was one of the first force areas in the country to provide naloxone kits – a medication to reverse the effects of an overdose – and it is a vital tool in the prevention of drug deaths which remain at a high level in the North East.”

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