The U.K. government has announced a £148 million new investment to cut crime and protect people from the scourge of illegal drugs.
The £148 million package takes a system-wide approach to the problem of illegal drugs. It gives extra resources to law enforcement to dismantle organized criminal gangs and tackle the supply of drugs. At the same time, it delivers more money for drug treatment and recovery to help cut drug-related crime and the cycle of misuse and reoffending. It represents the largest increase in drug treatment funding for 15 years.
Building on recent successes in tackling county lines gangs, the government will double the funding available for law enforcement to take down and bring to justice county lines gangs and drug kingpins. The £40 million of new money to tackle county lines and drugs supply brings the total invested to £65 million since November 2019.
The funding has already seen more than 3,400 people arrested, more than 550 lines closed, drugs with a street value of £9 million and £1.5 million cash seized, and more than 770 vulnerable people safeguarded.
A further £28 million will be invested into piloting Project ADDER – a new intensive approach to tackling drug misuse, which combines targeted and tougher policing with enhanced treatment and recovery services. Project ADDER (which stands for Addiction, Diversion, Disruption, Enforcement and Recovery) will bring together partners including the police, local councils and health services, and run for three financial years in five areas with some of the highest rates of drug misuse: Blackpool, Hastings, Middlesbrough, Norwich and Swansea Bay.
The funding will allow the police to target local gang leaders driving the drugs trade while better helping people to recover from addictions.
An extra £80 million will also be invested in drug treatment services right across England to give more support to offenders with drink and drug addictions, which can fuel crime. This new money will increase the number of treatment places for prison leavers and offenders diverted into tough and effective community sentences. Together the funding represents a comprehensive drive by the government to build back safer from the pandemic by helping people break free from the scourge of drug use and cutting drug-fuelled crime and violence.
As part of this package, £2.5 million will also be invested in providing continuity of care for prisoners on release to avoid this becoming a crisis point. The enhanced RECONNECT service supports offenders with complex needs to engage with and get the right treatment from mental health, substance misuse and other services, for up to a year after release. Offenders will be supported by expert care navigators working with health and probation services.
The money will also support offenders into treatment upon release from prison and fund additional detox beds and the life-saving overdose medicine, naloxone. By saving lives and providing treatment former offenders have the chance and support to break the cycle of crime and addiction.
This work follows the appointment in February 2019 of Professor Dame Carol Black to undertake an independent review of drugs.