This paper represents the response of UKDPC to the UK Government’s Drug Strategy Consultation announced in July 2007. In developing our response we have engaged with key representatives from the academic community and draw upon this feedback as well as a number of important reports and reviews in addition to those commissioned so far by ourselves, most notably the independent report we published earlier this year: An Analysis of UK Drug Policy
This process has highlighted a number of key observations concerning the current strategy and key recommendations for its replacement in 2008, which have relevance for many of the questions raised within the government’s consultation paper: ‘Drugs: our community, your say’.
- We acknowledge from the outset the considerable achievements that have been made over the past ten years, particularly the increase in the number of people receiving treatment following a sharp increase in investment.
- However, it remains unclear to what extent many of the interventions under the current strategy have resulted in positive outcomes and represent good value for money. There is a scarcity of knowledge about ‘what works’ across many strands of the strategy which cannot be overestimated and should be of serious concern.
- This is coupled with a lack of proper understanding of many of the basic processes associated with the initiation of drug use and progression into and out of dependence and problematic use. This hampers both the design and evaluation of interventions within the drug strategy.
- There is a pressing need to address the many implementation and delivery issues which hold back or diminish outcomes when interventions of proven effectiveness, such as drug treatment, are more widely adopted.
- Calls for ‘zero tolerance’ and so-called ‘tough’ measures which are not supported by the evidence risk undoing any progress made in the past ten years. Our primary concern must be to adopt approaches backed by good evidence and ensure any new interventions are rigorously evaluated before being rolled out widely.