News in brief

City services

Drug and/or alcohol prevention work with staff and businesses in the City of London has been of ‘limited scope and unknown efficacy’, according to a service review report from the Corporation of London. The document recommends increased spending on ‘prevention work with healthy or low-risk users’ to avoid potential future problems. The importance of providing proper support for employees with drug or alcohol issues is one of the themes of the forthcoming Recovery Festival. Details at

Price proposals

The Welsh Government has launched a consultation on its public health white paper, Listening to you – your health matters, which includes proposals to introduce a minimum price per unit of alcohol and restrict the use of e-cigarettes in public places. ‘The Welsh Government’s view remains that introducing minimum unit pricing for alcohol would be entirely in accordance with prudent healthcare principles,’ says the document. Meanwhile, the UK government has released its first report on the progress of the public health responsibility deal, which promised to reduce the number of alcohol units sold by 1bn per year. So far the reduction has been a quarter of that, says Responsibility deal alcohol network: pledge to remove 1bn units of alcohol from the market by the end of 2015. Report at; Wales consultation at See news focus.

PBR payback

Payment by results (PBR) is holding back innovation in the public sector, according to a report from NCVO. Small and specialist organisations lack the reserves to cover the period until they’re paid, says Payment by results and the voluntary sector, while the ability to hit targets can also be affected by failures in services outside the provider’s control. ‘Current PbR practice risks excluding the specialist charities we really need to involve in order to develop public services,’ said NCVO chief executive Stuart Etherington. Available at

New era

More people than ever are buying drugs online, according the findings of the 2014 global drug survey, which questioned nearly 80,000 people from more than 40 countries. Cocaine was voted the worst value for money drug in the world, while MDMA was voted the best and alcohol remained ‘the biggest cause of concern among friends and the biggest culprit in sending people to emergency department’.

Crimea crackdown

Russia has banned methadone from clinics in Crimea, following its annexation of the region. The International and Eurasian networks of people who use drugs (INPUD and ENPUD) recently called on the international community to put pressure on Russia over the treatment of 800 substitution programme clients in Crimea (DDN, April, page 4). However, the head of Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service (FSKN), Victor Ivanov, told the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS that methadone was ‘not a cure’ and that ‘practically all methadone supplies in Ukraine were circulating on the secondary market and distributed as a narcotic drug in the absence of proper control… a source of criminal incomes’.

Engaging appointment

Andrew Brown, formerly Mentor UK’s director of programmes, has been announced as DrugScope’s new director of policy, influence and engagement. ‘With this excellent addition to the staff team we look forward to DrugScope building on our reputation for high quality, influential policy work, drawing on the best available evidence and the experiences and expertise of our members,’ said chief executive Marcus Roberts.

Stark statistics

Homicides linked to gangs and organised criminal groups account for 30 per cent of the overall total in the Americas, compared to less than one per cent in Asia, Europe and Oceania, says a report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). More than 60,000 people are estimated to have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico alone in the six years to 2012, according to Human Rights Watch. ‘It is likely that changes in drug markets drive lethal violence, rather than violence being driven by overall levels of trafficking flows,’ says Global study on homicide 2013. Available at

Revolutionary decision

Red Army vodka, which is sold in a gun-shaped bottle, has been found to breach the Responsible Retailing Code of Northern Ireland for associating alcohol with violence and aggression, with the Portman Group’s Independent Complaints Panel concluding that the name and packaging were ‘inappropriate’ for an alcoholic drink. ‘Strict UK alcohol marketing rules specifically prohibit an alcoholic drink from being sold if it has any association with bravado, or with violent, aggressive, dangerous or anti-social behaviour,’ said the group’s chief executive Henry Ashworth.



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