UK Drug Policy an 'Expensive Failure'

News Watch (Tuesday, 19 May 2009)

The UK's liberal approach to drugs has been an "expensive failure", according to a report published today. The Centre for Policy Studies criticised efforts to tackle the UK drug crisis as a "phoney war", which has left the country with the "worst drug problem in Europe".

The UK has an even more liberal approach than Holland towards drugs, the report claimed.

The policy of treating addicts has left 147,000 people trapped in "state-sponsored" addiction, with 41 per cent of 15-year-olds having now tried drugs, the think tank added.

The report found that despite the UK drugs market being worth around £5bn a year, only £380m a year is being spent by the government to control the supply of drugs.

But the Home Office said the report "inaccurately portrays the impact of the government's drug strategy".

Author Kathy Gyngell said the straight-forward, practical and successful drug policies used in the Netherlands and Sweden were effective as "part of a broader public health policy".

"Labour's war on drugs has not, despite the rhetoric to the contrary, been fought," Glyngell argued.

"It has been a phoney war - and an expensive failure.

"While the UK spends the majority of its drug budget on its so-called treatment programmes, both the Netherlands and Sweden spend most of their drugs budget on prevention and enforcement."

The report concluded there is "no perfect policy solution", but a successful drugs policy has to be used on reducing supply, reducing recruitment to drug abuse and encouraging people to give up their abuse.

During today's Home Office questions, the home secretary was asked about the "damning indictment" of the government's drug policy by Richard Ottaway (Con, Croydon South).

Smith argued the report had contained "many inaccuracies" and the government was seeking to develop better drug awareness programmes at schools.

From: HTBritain

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