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A Transform news release will be published on Tuesday Feb 26th, and a commentary on the new strategy will be provided soon after it is publishedBackground and summary
- The publication of the new strategy follows a consultation and review process widely condemned as a sham (see ‘Critiques of the Home Office drug strategy consultation’ p.8), with Government research and cost benefit analysis that showed the strategy in a bad light actively suppressed (see ‘Suppressed reports’ p.11)
- The drugs strategy consultation document was devoid of any policy proposals to consult on and awash with statistical distortions and misrepresentations (see p.4); effectively a Home Office propaganda document attempting to dress up ten years of overwhelming failure as success. The document has been widely criticised: by the Government appointed Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (that operates within the Home Office), by the Treasury based Statistics Commission, in Parliamentary debates, and by a wide range of NGOs in the drugs field (see ‘critiques of the Home Office drugs strategy consultation’ p.8)
Aseries of reports at the highest levels of Government (that despite attempts to suppress them have found their way into the public domain) reveal that the Government has long been aware of the fact that current enforcement policy is both extremely expensive and demonstrably ineffective – often creating or exacerbating many of the harms it is supposed to be addressing. These reports include a 2003 report commissioned by Prime Minister Tony Blair from the Number 10 Strategy Unit (leaked to the Guardian in 2005), and Treasury Comprehensive Spending Review reports on the drug strategies effectiveness , one of which has recently been released following an FOI request from Transform, (see ‘suppressed reports’p.11).
- Policy development including the new strategy has systematically prioritised populist political agendas over the detailed and rational analysis and recommendations emerging from not only the Government’s own departmental reports and cost benefit analyses, but also work from a series of high level independent, NGO and parliamentary bodies. These include reports from The Police Foundation (2000), The Home Affairs Select Committee (2002), the Prime Minister's Number 10 Strategy unit (2003) , The Science and Technology Select Committee(2006), The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs(2006) and the RSA commission on Illegal Drugs, Communities and Public Policy (2007).
- The inevitable outcome has been a new drug strategy shaped by political prerogatives rather than what everyone in the drugs field had hoped for: a meaningful evaluation of ‘what works’ and an honest, open and rational analysis of the various policy options. Withholding vital research, and instead hiding behind spin and propaganda is in no one’s interest, regardless of ones position in the drug policy debate, and can only lead to the perpetuation of failure.