New cross-government unit launched to tackle drug misuse

New cross-government unit launched to tackle drug misuse

The government has announced the launch of a new drugs unit, which will help to tackle drug misuse with the hope of ending illegal drug-related illnesses and fatalities.

Data suggests that there are now around 300,000 opiate or crack users in England, and around one million cocaine users per year.

Drug misuse poisoning deaths are at a record high, having increased almost 80% since 2012. It is believed that these deaths have been driven mostly by increases in heroin-related fatalities.

The new Joint Combating Drugs Unit will bring together government departments including the Department of Health and Social Care, Home Office, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Department for Work and Pensions, Department for Education and Ministry of Justice.

Following on from Professor Dame Carol Black’s independent review into drug policy, this new joint approach recognises the need for wider support along with traditional forms of drug treatment.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “When I first commissioned Dame Carol to do this review as Home Secretary, we knew the sale and use of drugs drives serious violence and homelessness, but this review shows that the health implications are just as devastating.”

He added: “Tackling this issue requires strong collaboration across government and the new specialist Joint Combating Drugs Unit will help us to do just that.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “I welcome this landmark review by Dame Carol and the government remains absolutely committed to addressing this issue. We are taking action to deliver lasting change through the new Joint Combating Drugs Unit – which will bring together all parts of government to tackle the scourge of illegal drugs – as well as investing £148 million this year to cut drugs crime and improve treatment and recovery services.”

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