Drug treatment services get £80 million boost in crime crackdown
Drug treatment services in England will get an extra £80 million as part of the Government’s efforts to cut crime.
The money is part of a £148 million package announced on Wednesday (January 20), which also gives more resources to police to tackle organised criminal gangs.
Drug services are due to receive £80 million to increase the number of treatment places for people released from prison and criminals handed community sentences.
The funding increase comes after warnings government cuts to addiction services mean higher numbers of people needing help could miss out on life-saving treatment.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Addiction and crime are inextricably linked and to truly break the cycle we must make sure people can access the help they need to get their lives back on track for good.
“This is the largest increase to drug treatment funding in 15 years and underlines our absolute commitment to reduce drug-related deaths, offending and use.”
Some £40 million is earmarked for law enforcement to tackle ‘kingpins’ and so-called County Lines operations – which often exploit young and vulnerable people to carry drugs and cash between cities and smaller towns.
The Home Office said an initial £25 million invested since November 2019 has seen more than 3,400 arrests, more than 550 lines closed and more than 770 vulnerable people protected, while drugs with a street value of £9 million, as well as £1.5 million in cash, have been seized.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “The Government’s work to tackle County Lines drugs gangs has already resulted in thousands more people being arrested and hundreds more vulnerable people being safeguarded, but we must do more to tackle the underlying drivers behind serious violence.
“That is why today’s announcement will provide the largest investment in drugs treatment and support in 15 years, while also giving more resources to law enforcement so they can continue dismantling organised criminal gangs and tackling the supply of drugs.”
A further £28 million will be invested into a pilot Project ADDER (Addiction, Diversion, Disruption, Enforcement and Recovery), which combines targeted policing with treatment and recovery services.
It will run for three financial years in five areas with high rates of drug use, including Blackpool, Hastings, Middlesbrough, Norwich and Swansea Bay.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said drugs “are a serious driver of the violence which devastates communities and robs young lives”.
“That is why we must take action to cut off supply and cut the head off the snake by tackling the criminal gangs which exploit young people,” he said.
“We must also help people to get off drugs in the first place and that is why we are launching Project Adder, a new, targeted approach which will ramp up local enforcement, while at the same time diverting more people into recovery, backed up by the largest investment in treatment in 15 years.”