Government commits to new drugs unit

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A new drugs unit will be set up to help ‘end illegal drug-related illness and deaths’, the government has stated, following the publication of the second part of Professor Dame Carol Black’s Independent review of drugs.

The Joint Combating Drugs Unit will bring together multiple departments of state – the Department of Health and Social Care, Home Office, Department for Work and Pensions, Ministry of Justice, Department for Education, and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government – as recommended in the report, and in recognition that ‘treatment alone is not enough’.

Sajid Javid: Aiming for ‘strong collaboration across government’ through the new unit

‘When I first commissioned Dame Carol to do this review as home secretary, we knew the sale and use of drugs drives serious violence and homelessness but this review shows that the health implications are just as devastating,’ said health secretary Sajid Javid. ‘Tackling this issue requires strong collaboration across government and the new specialist Joint Combating Drugs Unit will help us to do just that.’

Among the reports other recommendations were appointing a single, responsible minister for drug policy to hold the government to account, introducing a national commissioning quality standard, ringfencing treatment funding and boosting treatment staff numbers, along with diverting more people from the criminal justice system into treatment and making sure everyone leaving prison has easy access to treatment. The government would look closely at the recommendations, and ‘publish an initial response shortly’, said Javid. 

Rosanna O’Connor: ‘We know treatment works’

‘Drug treatment services save lives and help many people recover from drug dependence, improving not only their lives but those of their families, their communities and wider society,’ said PHE’s director of drugs, alcohol, tobacco and justice, Rosanna O’Connor. ‘We know treatment works and so it’s essential that everyone can easily get the treatment they need. We welcome Dame Carol Black’s recommendation for increased funding that is protected and prioritised for treatment and recovery services to ensure that everyone can get the support they need to move forward with their lives.’