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Drugs Policy


Written by Works for Freedom (04/03/14)

Release is a centre of expertise on drugs and drugs law. 

They provide non-judgemental, specialist advice and information to the public and professionals on issues related to drug use and to drug laws. They advocate for evidence-based research and policies that are founded on public health rather than a criminal justice approach.

Their website is full of matter-of-fact information on the effects of drugs, drugs and the law, how to properly use these drugs and how to reduce the harm that may be caused by them. As well as this they have published their policy papers, responses and annual reports on the site.

Release also offers counselling services, help and advice and legal aid that operates in ten different drug treatment centres across London. 

Published in Drugs Policy

Around 55,000 adults were sentenced for drug-related offences in 2010. So today’s new guidelines on drug offences from the Sentencing Council have the potential to affect many. On an initial review we have concluded that they are a bit of a mixed bag.

On the plus side, age or lack of maturity is included as a mitigating factor in sentencing. This could mean that some younger people face less punitive sentences. Drug possession (including possession of Class A drugs) might also attract a fine in some circumstances. Used sensibly, this might result in a modest reduction in the use of custody.

Those who are convicted of drug trafficking offences might also face more lenient sentences if they can demonstrate that they were forced into the act, or were unaware of what they were carrying.

On the other hand, the guidelines point to tougher sentences for those convicted of producing or cultivating drugs.

Overall the Council estimates the aggregate effect of the changes will be neutral.

In its official announcement today the Council claims that although ‘primarily aimed at criminal justice professionals, the guideline is specifically designed to be accessible and clear to the public.’

Take a look at the guidelines and judge for yourselves.

Published in Drugs Policy
On the back of news of the Home Affairs Committee inquiry into drugs comes new data on the health impact of alcohol consumption. A study by Balance, the North East of England’s Alcohol Office, has found evidence of a significant increase in hospital admissions for alcohol-induced liver disease. This reinforces the case made by Professor David Nutt and his colleagues last year that alcohol is one of the most harmful drugs, legal or otherwise, currently consumed in the UK.
For its inquiry the Home Affairs Committee is keen to explore the 'relationship between drug and alcohol abuse' and the 'comparative harm and cost of legal and illegal drugs'.
The inquiry is therefore a good opportunity for drug and alcohol practitioners to share their knowledge and experience of the short and longer-term harms of all drugs, including alcohol, as well as of what works in addressing these harms.
Works for Freedom is collating a combined submission to the Committee from drug and alcohol practitioners, so get in touch if you'd like to contribute to it.
Published in Drugs Policy

This research examines the cost-effectiveness (in terms of impact on crime and health care) of substance misuse treatment for young people. It concludes that "the immediate and long-term benefits of specialist substance misuse treatment for young people are likely to significantly outweigh the cost of providing this treatment".

Published in Drugs Policy

The Licensing Act of 2003, implemented in England and Wales in late 2005, had the express purpose of reducing crime and disorder. Arianna Silvestri, associate at the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, summarises the findings of three pieces of research evaluating the impact of the Licensing Act of 2003.

Published in Drugs Policy

Article published in Addiction, 9 February 2010 and dealing with the factors influencing recent public discourse and policy decisions in the UK.

Published in Drugs Policy

A study, published in the British Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, examining the impact of hospital based nurse counselling interventions with people affected by alcohol-generated violence.

Published in Drugs Policy

Arianna Silvestri, associate at the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, summarises research by D. Nutt, L. King, W. Saulsbury, C. Blakemore (2007), ‘Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse’, as published in The Lancet, Volume 369, Issue 9566, Pages 1047-1053.

Published in Drugs Policy

A study published by the UK Drug Policy Commission that estimates that at least 1.5m adults in the UK are caring for family members with drug problems and are as a result bearing a hidden financial burden of at least £1.8m. This care contribution is not fully recognised and often causes not just financial hardship but in loss of employment, breakdown of family relationships and psychological stress.

Published in Drugs Policy

The first national reassessment for over 10 years shows mixed results for drug treatment services in England. A year after starting treatment drug use, convictions for criminal offences and health risk behaviour were observed to be reduced. However, quality of life gains were minor compared to treatment costs. The study argues that patients and services are far from achieving national reintegration objectives.

Published in Drugs Policy
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