The ACMD’s working practices have meant it has been largely independent, systematic, objective and comprehensive in the way it goes about its business and has achieved international recognition as a ‘model of good practice’.
The ACMD’s composition has, by and large, ensured it has the requisite skills and competences available to it. It has been able to draw on wider experience as and when necessary.
The Council has discharged its duties as laid down in the Act in most respects. However in three important areas (restricting supply, educating the public and promoting research) it is clear the Council could and should be doing more (given additional resourcing).
The ACMD has had significant influence over many years with its advice mainly accepted and, in large parts, implemented. However we are concerned that there is no process for ensuring the Council’s recommendations are actually implemented and/or acted upon when accepted. Perhaps Parliamentary Committees could be invited to scrutinise governmental responses and actions to scientific advisory committee’s (SAC’s) advice on a more regular basis.
The current level of expenditure on the ACMD represents extraordinary VFM (ie actual spending amounts to only 0.001% of the total estimated costs of Class A drug use). It is a cause for concern that such an important scientific and expert advisory body has such limited resources to spend on research and analysis to underpin and inform its deliberations.
It is the UKDPC view that the time is now right to look afresh at the governance of drug policy. We realise this lies outside the strict terms of reference for the current quinquennial review and might involve legislative implications.