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December 19, 2022
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ADPH joins call on Government to rethink new drug possession proposals

Instead of criminalising people, the Government need to replicate the supportive and preventative approach to tackling drug use that directors of public health take locally.

Alice Wiseman
ADPH Policy Lead for addiction

We have added our voice to an open letter, organised by the Transform Drug Policy Foundation calling on the Government to rethink the proposals to tackle drug possession in their Swift, Certain, Tough white paper.

Alice Wiseman, Board Member, Policy Lead for addiction and Director of Public Health for Gateshead, said: “Directors of public health are responsible for commissioning a wide range of services to reduce the harmful effects of drugs. In order to reduce drug use, we need to encourage people to use these services, making sure that they are accessible to everyone, whenever and wherever they are needed.

“We know that while drug use is widespread throughout all sections of society, the most harmful patterns of use are strongly associated with factors such as deprivation and mental ill health.

“The Government’s proposals are based on a principle of punishment as opposed to public health, with those caught having to pay fines and face increasing stigma. This means that the impact is likely to exacerbate already existing inequalities which in turn could increase levels of drug-related harm and deter people from seeking support.

“Furthermore, the plans, which also seek to target people who use drugs infrequently with measures that have not yet been proven to reduce harm, will not only be expensive to implement, but will also detract from already stretched services.

“We need to learn from the hundreds of successful public health initiatives that are already in existence throughout the country. Treatment and prevention centres for example, demonstrate promising evidence that they could reduce drug related deaths and engage those hardest to reach.

“Instead of criminalising people, the Government should commit to replicating this supportive, preventative approach to tackling drug use nationally and increase public health funding so that DsPH can secure the future of these – and many other rehabilitation – services which are already reducing drug related harm and saving lives.”

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