Support for PCC’s proposals to tackle the scourge of drugs grows

Following the publication of practical proposals by West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson there has been a strong wave of support from professionals and experts working in the field, including from the Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Public Health, the Governor of HMP Featherstone, the Co-Chair of the Drugs, Alcohol and Justice Cross-Party Parliamentary Group, the Chair of the Birmingham Local Medical Committee and many more.

 

Lord Ramsbotham, Co-Chair of the Drugs, Alcohol and Justice Cross-Party Parliamentary Group:

"We have campaigned consistently for evidence-based policy and therefore welcome these recommendations as a most constructive and convincing contribution. Reducing crime and harm by diverting people with substance misuse issues away from the criminal justice system into treatment, as advocated by the West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner, must be the correct strategy. We look forward to discussing this excellent document at our next Group Meeting."

 

Baroness Molly Beacher, Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform:

"West Midlands have identified the idiocy of current UK drugs policy which wastes billions of pounds on the criminal justice system, and fails communities and vulnerable people. They have identified cost effective, evidence based, public health policies which merit introduction across the Country. This is exactly what the UN called for at their global drug policy meeting in 2016."

 

Governor Babafemi Dada, Featherstone Prison, said:

"HMP Featherstone is proud to have been part of the summit, and glad to see that the issue of substance/drug abuse in the community, of which we are part of, is getting the attention it deserves. This will help reduce numbers of victims and give hope to those who have had to deal with the impact of drug use."

 

Dr Bill Strange, Chair Birmingham Local Medical Committee (representing over 600 GPs in the city), said:

"Birmingham Local Medical Committee supports an initiative to assess the feasibility of establishing local Drug Consumtions Rooms. We think they could offer a considerable potential to improve the care of a disadvantaged  section of our citizens.    

 

Rose Humphries, of the Anyone's Child Project, who spoke at the West Midlands drugs summit about losing two sons to heroin overdoses, said:
"I thank Commissioner Jamieson for these thoughtful recommendations. I fully support them. Bitter experience has taught me that current drugs ­policy didn't protect my children, and it won't protect yours. If their drug use had been treated as a health issue instead of a criminal one, Jake and Roland would probably be alive today."

 

Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive, Royal Society for Public Health, said:

"These recommendations from the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner are an important and welcome contribution to the growing momentum behind common sense drug policy reform in the UK. Health professionals, police, and the public are all agreed that a public health - rather than criminal justice - approach to drug policy is what is needed to tackle rising rates of drug harm in this country and beyond.

"We know that diverting people suffering as a result of harmful substance use away from the criminal justice system and into treatment leads to better outcomes for the individual and for society, and we know that pragmatic harm reduction interventions such as drug consumption rooms, heroin assisted treatment and drug safety testing can play an extremely helpful role in that process. It is heartening to hear more influential voices, with on the ground experience of these issues, give these measures their backing."

 

Martin Powell of Transform said:

"Our failed approach to drugs cannot be allowed to continue. Drug deaths are at a record high, while young people's drug use has risen 60% in three years. We welcome the PCC's recommendations, which are a sensible, real-world response to drug use and supply in the West Midlands, which we hope everyone get behind. The benefits will be huge: crimes committed to fund drug use will fall, so will profits for organised crime gangs, while overdoses, HIV infections, and ambulance call-outs will be cut. In short, these measures will protect communities and individuals, while releasing resources for police and the NHS to spend on key priorities."

 

Peter Glass, Director of Operations at Cranstoun Group (the second largest provider of drug and alcohol services in the West Midlands):

"The Cranstoun Group are pleased to have contributed to the development of the West Midlands Drug Policy Recommendations document, which identifies a number of key areas, not only around wider policy issues in the field, but specifically in establishing the importance and value of drug treatment as a proven intervention to significantly reduce crime.

"The value of treatment and recovery providers working within community based Criminal Justice environments is well documented and any opportunity to re-introduce drug intervention programmes, along with engagement and diversion schemes should be a cornerstone of any future development and commissioning"

 

Mohammed Ashfaq, Managing Director of Kikit:

"Kikit Pathways to Recovery drug and alcohol support service provides BME specialist support in Birmingham in partnership with CGL.  KIKIT support the new drugs policy and look forward to working with the PCC and partners."

 

Michael Linnell, Co-ordinator of UK and Ireland DrugWatch:

"It is commendable that the West Midlands have taken local drug policy so seriously as demonstrated by the scope and ambition shown in these recommendations."

 

Fiona Measham, Director of the Loop (not for profit drug testing organisation):

"It is both heartening and exciting to read such a forward thinking and evidence-based drug policy from the West Midlands PCC which takes policing into a new era and potentially can significantly reduce drug-related harm to the benefit of everyone."

 

Association of Police and Crime Commissioners national lead for Alcohol and Substance Misuse, Hardyal Dhindsa, said:

"With drug-related deaths at a record high, this week's report from PCC David Jamieson and his team is an important and considered contribution to our ongoing discussions about how public services can work together effectively to prevent harm, protect communities from the effects of drug abuse and make better use of finite resources.

"Police and Crime Commissioners across England and Wales are leading the way with innovative local approaches to address the underlying factors which fuel these problems, as recommended by the Government's 2017 Drugs Strategy, and our commitment to supporting the most vulnerable in society is matched by our continued support for tough national action to take on the organised crime gangs which profit from their misery.

"Drug abuse isn't a problem that can be addressed by policing alone, nor should it be, and the terrible cost of destructive drug use cannot be overlooked. As the APCC National Lead I welcome this report, and every opportunity to look again at how we can best support the most vulnerable in society."

 

Lizzie McCulloch, Volteface (Drug Policy Think Tank), said:

"The West Midlands PCC recommendations demonstrate an openness to innovative policies which have been proven to prevent harm, protect communities and make better use of finite resources. Drug-related deaths are at their highest on record and we know the immense cost that drugs pose to society. By championing interventions such as Drug Consumption Rooms, Heroin Assisted Treatment and the safety testing of drugs in night time districts or festivals, the PCC is doing his part to reduce the crime and harm of drugs in the West Midlands."

 

Niamh Eastwood, Chief Executive of Release (a national centre of expertise on drugs and drugs law), said:

"The evidence-based recommendations put forward by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner would reduce drug harms and protect communities. We welcome the WMPCC's calls for expanding naloxone access, considering the opening of drug consumption rooms, and introducing a diversion scheme so that people found in possession do not have to experience the damaging effects of a criminal record. By refocusing drug policy towards public health rather than criminalisation, the implementation of these proposals would go a long way in reducing the country's spiralling number of drug related deaths and helping some of society's most vulnerable people."