Gov spend £10billion on its drugs policy – no change

Despite this government spending £10billion – £1.5billion a year – on its drugs policy, the numbers emerging from government treatment programmes are the same as if there had been no treatment at all, revealed Kathy Gyngell in a recent document from the apolitical Centre for Policy Studies. We share its seminal factsThis summer saw the release of The Phoney War on Drugs by researcher Kathy Gyngell, chair of the Centre for Policy Studies’ Prisons and Addictions forum and editor of the 400-page Addictions section of Breakthrough Britain. It is a devastating critique of the failure of the UK’s drugs policy, the waste of valuable resources and lives.

Many experts implementing good practice will have witnessed the reality of the conclusions Gyngell arrives at, but perhaps not known the exact statistics. Truth gives power. Not only might counterproductive policies and practices be reduced, but Gyngell offers some tried-and-tested solutions. The UK is compared with Sweden and the Netherlands throughout The Phoney War. Both countries were chosen because they have adopted drug policies which are markedly different to
those of the UK and their drug use is lower. It is noteworthy that, despite the perception that the Netherlands has a liberal drugs policy, 76% of Dutch municipalities now operate local zero tolerance drug policies. Coffee shops are now increasingly tightly regulated and policed. A third have been closed in recent years. Sweden and the Netherlands also have more effective prevention strategies.


“Trae-blue Lane had just turned three when she died from an overdose of methadone, the heroin substitute supplied to her mother,” reported the Sunday Telegraph in January 2009. A Channel 4 Freedom of Information request found that between 2005-2006 police caught over 6,000 children selling drugs from class-A substances to cannabis, and caught a further 53,497 children in possession of drugs.

The deaths of infants are small windows on the UK’s worsening and chaotic drugs culture which Labour’s drug policy has, inadvertently, promoted. Consider these trends:

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