Home Affairs Committee to investigate impact of drug legislation

The Home Affairs Committee is to investigate the impact of legislation designed to restrict drug use, including the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and Psychoactive Substances Act 2016, it has announced. The investigation will form part of a wider inquiry to ‘examine illegal drug use in the UK and its effect on society’.

The Misuse of Drugs Act’s 50th anniversary last year saw it labelled ‘past its sell-by date’ and ‘not fit for purpose’ (https://www.drinkanddrugsnews.com/experts-call-for-drug-law-reform/), while the 2016 act was also highly controversial. The inquiry also intends to look at the effectiveness of government strategies to address drug use and drug-related deaths and crime, including the new ten-year strategy launched late last year. Questions the committee will consider as part of the inquiry include whether the current framework needs to be reformed, should a ‘right to recovery’ be enshrined in UK law, and which international policies and approaches could work in the UK.

Dame Diana Johnson: Looking at whether drugs policy reflects reality.

‘We have launched this inquiry to understand the impact of current legislation and government policy in addressing the negative consequences of drug taking in the UK,’ said committee chair Dame Diana Johnson. ‘It will look at whether drugs policy reflects the reality of drug use in the 21st century and its impact on wider society. First and foremost we want to see how well we are supporting those who are struggling with drug addiction and understand what more can be done to support them. We also want to see if efforts to combat the trade in illegal drugs have been successful and look at what has worked well in other countries.’

Meanwhile analysis from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that more than 30 per cent of homicide victims over the last three years were thought to be under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs at the time – 18 per cent had been drinking alcohol, 6 per cent had taken an illicit drug and 8 per cent were under the influence of both. Statistics for suspects were similar to those for victims, says ONS, with 28 per cent recorded to have been under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. More than a quarter of suspects were ‘known to be drug dealers’, as were 15 per cent of victims.

Details on how to submit evidence to the Home Affairs inquiry at https://committees.parliament.uk/call-for-evidence/724/. Deadline 24 March

Homicide in England and Wales: Year ending March 2021 at www.ons.gov.uk

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