In Focus: Tackling Addictions22.03.23 - Merseyside
With half of all homicides and acquisitive crimes believed to be drug-related, tackling drugs may be the single biggest thing that Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) can do to prevent crime and make communities safe.
A new report produced by the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) - 'Tackling Addictions In Focus' - shows how PCCs are doing this across England and Wales, contributing to all three of the pillars in the From harm to hope drug strategy:
- robust enforcement to cut supply;
- help to get offenders with addictions into treatment and off drugs; and
- reducing demand by changing attitudes to drug misuse, including with young people who have started using the illegal gateway drugs like cannabis, nitrous oxide, MDMR.
APCC Addictions and Substance Misuse Leads, Joy Allen and David Sidwick said: “It's not only delivering each of the pillars that’s important, but – as Project Adder has demonstrated – joining them up. Some of the biggest challenges arise in the gaps between systems and services. For example, we need to get more people who are engaging with treatment in prisons linking up with services in the community on release, and more offenders with addictions who appear – often again and again – before our courts into treatment with robust community sentences to ensure they are getting their lives back on track and addressing their offending behaviour. We also need to get our schools, colleges and Universities more involved given their critical role in shifting attitudes.
“PCCs are uniquely placed to convene and drive the partnerships that join the dots – many are leading their Combating Drugs Partnerships, most are chairing their Local Criminal Justice Boards, and all are expecting changes to strengthen their relationship with Community Safety Partnerships. As the APCC’s Addictions and Substance Misuse portfolio leads, we sit on the cross-governmental ministerial forum which is bringing together ministers from six key ministries to ensure a coherent national approach across Whitehall, and to support our local partnerships to deliver.
“It’s not just drugs that are the issue of course – alcohol is behind much crime and anti-social behaviour, particularly violence both in the night time economy and in the home. And there is also the issue of gambling related crime including fraud and street robbery, with evidence of links to domestic abuse and child neglect. This report highlights ground-breaking work by some PCCs to start to address this hidden issue.
“There is no doubting the scale of the challenge to PCCs from drugs and other addictions, nor the benefits to our communities of getting this right in terms of reduced crime, safer communities and support for vulnerable people. We have an historic opportunity to turn the tide, notably with the ten-year Drug Strategy and the investment that is supporting it. This In Focus report showcases work PCCs are doing to deliver that promise on the ground.”
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell, whose work was featured within the report, said: “Policing alone cannot tackle the issue of drugs in our community. I’m committed to supporting the innovative work by Merseyside Police to work with a wide range of partners to deliver a whole-system approach to cutting drug-related crime and harm in our communities.
“Ultimately, if we can help people to tackle and overcome their addictions, we will help to prevent crime, have fewer victims, and build stronger, safer communities – that has to be our goal. It’s great this work is being showcased through the latest ‘In Focus’ by the APCC.”
The Rt Hon Chris Philp MP, UK Government Combating Drugs Minister said: "This guide is very welcome – showcasing some of the excellent, joined-up work being led by PCCs across the country. I hope to see the continuing positive impact of these initiatives, and their further expansion.
"I am grateful to all PCCs for all the hard work they and partners have been putting in to make the drugs strategy a success. I look forward to continuing to work with you all to address illicit drug use and make our communities safer and healthier."