As part of Transform's response to the drug strategy consultation process we have produced a detailed briefing on the evidence of policy effectiveness over the last ten years, featuring, for each of the four key target areas, the Government's claims, followed by a Transform reality check and commentary. There is a great deal wrong with the drug strategy consultation:
- Its content (no policies - and certainly no policy options- are proposed to 'consult' on)
- Its format (not enough room to answer questions, no facility to make external submissions, limited questions etc).
- The process by which it is being undertaken (the public are being asked to comment on cannabis reclassification - a scientific harm evaluation that ACMD are resonsible for, responses are being 'collated' in non-transparent ways by a private company).
The consultation document is so bad that various civil servants we have spoken to over the past year had cause to warn us not to get our hopes up. It was suggested that 'Whatever your expectations - lower them'. And, unusually for a Home Office drugs publication, this one didn't dissapoint.
Of the document's many problems, one of the most obvious is the fact that it presents an absurdly positive view of the past ten years 'success', as viewed through the rose tinted spectacles of Home Office spin, cherry picking, and statistical sleight of hand. At the end of its forensic deconstruction of the Government claims the briefing concludes:
"It is imperative that the debate on the future of UK drug policy not be clouded by statistical misrepresentations and spin that dresses up failure as success. This is in no one's interest and will lead to the perpetuation of failure rather than meaningful engagement with evidence of what works and a rational and honest debate about the future direction of UK drug policy."