DDN April 2018

‘With yet more evidence, can we justify standing still?’

How far do you have to go to show that something’s a good idea, it’s cost effective, and that it works? We know that safe spaces, such as DCRs, save lives and that supporting instead of punishing is the only humane approach to drug policy.

When leaders on the frontline of law enforcement raise their voices to tell us our current approach to drug policy is not only failing, but a ‘crazy waste of money’, surely politicians must listen (page 6). These are not isolated voices: the Royal Society for Public Health is among many organisations to back harm reduction initiatives such as consumption rooms and heroin-assisted treatment as a move towards evidence-based policy.

Police officers were among the stakeholders to come together at a recent conference In Belfast on injecting drug use (page 8), and talked about the damage that law enforcement approaches can do to vulnerable people. If the support of the local police force is a critical factor in being able to establish DCRs in the UK, then surely we can’t be far off making them a reality in local areas.

We’re all too familiar with the upward trends in drug-related deaths, so when we’re presented with yet more evidence that a policy change would be cost-effective as well as health-effective, how can we justify standing still? And with police, local government and the health and social care fields calling for a move from evidence to action, surely it’s time for every region to be clear and purposeful in getting on with it.

Claire Brown, editor

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