You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Why the war on drugs has failed: UK Health

Press AssociationPress Association 16/06/2016 Jane Kirby

The "war on drugs" in Britain has failed in terms of public health and drug use should be decriminalised, two leading UK organisations have said.

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and the Faculty of Public Health (FPH) said the personal possession and use of all illegal drugs should no longer be considered a criminal offence.

While the bodies still support criminal charges for people who deal drugs, they said users should instead be referred for treatment and help.

The recommendation is made in a new UK-wide report, Taking a New Line on Drugs, which has the backing of several charities and law enforcement officials.

It is accompanied by a poll of more than 2000 adults which found 56 per cent agreed drug users should be referred for treatment instead of facing charges.

The report calls for evidence-based drugs education for young people in schools as part of personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education.

It also said the responsibility for a drugs strategy should be moved from the Home Office to the Department of Health.

Criminalising users leads to long-term harm such as greater exposure to drugs in prison, it argued. Furthermore, family relationships are severely harmed and people face exclusion from education and employment.

Professor John Middleton, president of the FPH, said: "Criminalisation and incarceration for minor, non-violent offences worsen problems linked to illicit drug use, such as social inequality, violence and infection. Possession and use should be decriminalised and health approaches prioritised."

Baroness Molly Meacher, speaking on behalf of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform, welcomed the report, adding that the current system "criminalises some users of psychoactive drugs whilst very harmful psychoactive drugs including alcohol and tobacco remain legal".

Ron Hogg, police and crime commissioner for Durham Constabulary, who recently wrote to his counterparts across the country to encourage them to follow his force's approach of not prosecuting cannabis users, said: "I believe that vulnerable people should be supported to change their lifestyles and break their habits rather than face criminal prosecution, at great expense to themselves and to society.

"The scant resources of the police and the courts are better used tackling the causes of the greatest harm - like the organised crime gangs that keep drugs on our streets and cause misery to thousands of people - rather than giving priority to arresting low-level users."

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon