UKDPC Publications
Politicians’ views on drug policy

As part of our project on how drug policy is made in the UK, UKDPC commissioned ComRes to survey the opinions of Members of Parliament, Members of the Scottish Parliament, and Welsh Assembly Members, on UK drug policy.

This note sets out the full findings of the polls. Summary results are shown below.

For MSPs and AMs, only overall results are shown. For MPs, base sizes are sufficient also to show data for coalition MPs (ie combined Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs) and Labour MPs.

Among those polled:

  • Clear majorities of politicians (at least 60%) in each body disagreed with the statement that current policies are effective in tackling the problems caused by illegal drugs. MPs were most likely to think this (77%) compared with 67% of AMs and 60% of MSPs.
  • Similarly, majorities of politicians felt that it can be difficult to have an objective debate about the best solution because drug policy is such a controversial issue. Here again MPs were most likely to agree with this statement (75% did) compared with 63% of AMs and 57% of MSPs.
  • At least two thirds of politicians in each body agreed that the process of making policy about illegal drugs should make more use of evidence and research than it currently does. In this case there was less difference between MPs (76% agreed) and MSPs (70%) or AMs (67%).
  • Only minorities of politicians in each body (between a quarter and a third) support consideration of changes to the drug laws so that possession of small quantities of currently illegal drugs for personal use only is not treated as a criminal offence.
  • While in Scotland, a majority of MSPs want more control over drug policy (68% do), Welsh Assembly Members are more evenly split on the question (44% agree and 48% disagree). Policy on drug misuse is mainly devolved to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies but with some aspects reserved to Westminster, notably in relation to the legislation for the control of drugs.
  • In general, there was little difference in attitudes to current drug policy between MPs from coalition parties and Labour MPs.  Both groups were equally likely to disagree (76%) that current policies are effective in tackling the problems caused by illegal drugs although Labour MPs were more likely to disagree strongly.
  • In addition Labour MPs were more likely than coalition MPs (83% compared with 69%) to agree that “The process of making policy about illegal drugs in the UK should make more use of evidence and research than it currently does”.

Related Publications:

Evidence Review
Politicians’ views on drug policy
Publication date 9th September 2012
Categories Legal ControlsStrategies, Policies and Systems
Size 186 kiB
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