The funding, commissioning, management and delivery structures for addressing the problems associated with illicit drugs in England are experiencing an unprecedented level of change.
The government’s 2010 Drug Strategy places considerable focus on improving the recovery outcomes for people with drug problems, alongside efforts to reduce the supply of drugs. It identifies the need for support from a range of different services such as employment, education and housing, and family networks to enable people to reintegrate into their communities. In contrast to the strong central oversight of previous drug strategies, it calls for far greater local control over service delivery by local areas and people accessing services.
At the same time, substantial reductions in public spending are being implemented alongside wide-ranging public service reform, including structural changes to the NHS, policing and criminal justice reform and a drive to deliver the Big Society.
These changes raise key questions, which our study set out to explore, about the ability of areas to achieve the ambitions of the Drug Strategy and around the future security of investment in drug interventions. With considerable additional resources for drug interventions over the last decade much has been achieved but there is a real risk that the current level of change will lead to the dilution of these gains, with negative consequences for drug users, their families, for wider communities, and indeed for the wider economy.
Our study reveals a broad picture of upheaval and uncertainty and this summary sets out our study’s main findings. The results will be relevant for national policy makers; commissioners and providers of drug treatment and recovery services; Directors of Public Health; those engaged in drug-related enforcement; and locally elected officials.
For details of the research project and other associated reports, click here.