Continuing with our coverage of election party manifesto commitments on drug policy (see Labour's here), today the new Conservative 2010 manifesto is published, titled 'Invitation to Join the Government of Britain'.
The first mention of drug policy actually comes in the first chapter titled 'change the economy' in a subsection called 'ensure the whole country shares in rising prosperity' under the subheading 'create a modern transport network':
"We will stop central government funding for new fixed speed cameras, and switch to more effective ways to make our roads safer, including authorising ‘drugalyser’ technology for use in testing for drug-driving. "This is interesting reflection on evidence based policy making in as much as it proposes reigning in speed cameras, a proven technology, at the same time as rolling out an unproven one, 'drugalysers', in the same sentence.
The main drug policy content has to wait until the 'Change society' chapter, unsurprisingly perhaps, under the 'Fight back against crime' subsection (again there is nothing in the health sections) which explores the Tory themes of mending 'Broken Britain', with the main focus on a crack down on binge drinking, and various calls for tougher alcohol regulation.
"A Conservative government will help to mend our broken society – by cracking down on drink- and drug-fuelled violence, tackling re-offending, and intervening early to stop young people getting onto the conveyor belt to crime – in order to reduce the causes of crime and anti-social behaviour."The next direct mention of (illegal) drug policy comes in a familiar association of drugs with external threats to our borders, and foreign criminals (themes also evident in Labour's 2005 manifesto):
Extremists, serious criminals and others find our borders far too easy to penetrate. That is why we will create a dedicated Border Police Force, as part of a refocused Serious Organised Crime Agency, to enhance national security, improve immigration controls, and crack down on the trafficking of people, weapons and drugs. We will work with police forces to strengthen arrangements to deal with serious crime and other cross-boundary policing challenges, and extend collaboration between forces to deliver better value for money.
Some more detail on reoffending and rehabilitation is then offered at the end of this chapter:
At the moment, many prisoners leave jail and lapse back into a life of drink, drugs and re-offending. We will never bring our crime rate down or start to reduce the costs of crime until we properly rehabilitate ex-prisoners. So, with a Conservative government, when offenders leave prison, they will be trained and rehabilitated by private and voluntary sector providers, under supervision. We will use the same approach that lies behind our welfare reform plans – payment by results – to cut re-offending, with organisations paid using savings made in the criminal justice system from the resulting lower levels of crime.There is obviously a bit more to consider than the Labour's paltry 55 word offering, but there are no surprises and, in reality very little to distinguish it from Labour's existing drug strategy. There are some minor (and largely unexplained) tweaks to the way services are to be funded and a bit of rhetorical window dressing. The irony presumably lost on the Conservatives, is that they demand 'payment by results' for those providing services to reduce offending, whilst failing to take the same medicine themselves by assessing the value for money of prohibition - which creates most the offending in the first place.
Drug and alcohol addiction are behind many of the crimes that are committed on our streets, but the treatment that too many addicts receive just maintains their habits. We will give courts the power to use abstinence-based Drug Rehabilitation Orders to help offenders kick drugs once and for all. We will introduce a system of temporary bans on new ‘legal highs’ while health issues are considered by independent experts.
To reform our system of rehabilitation further, we will:
- apply our payment by results reforms to the youth justice system;
- engage with specialist organisations to provide education, mentoring and drug rehabilitation programmes to help young offenders go straight; and,
- pilot a scheme to create Prison and Rehabilitation Trusts so that just one organisation is responsible for helping to stop a criminal re-offending.
Again we will leave you to make your minds up on the merits or otherwise of what's on offer.
In contrast to Labour, the Conservative manifesto in 2005 had considerably less content on drug policy than in 2010, but the 2005 manifesto was generally more concise deploying lots of populist soundbites and almost no detail.
This was all they provided on drug policy:
We will break the link between drugs and crime by massively expanding treatment programmes, including 25,000 residential rehab places (compared with fewer than 2,500 places today), and by giving all young users of hard drugs a straight choice – effective treatment or appearing in court. We will stop sending mixed messages on drugs by reversing Labour’s reclassification of cannabis as a less serious drug, changing it from class ‘C’ back to class ‘B’.
We will support the social institutions – families, schools, voluntary bodies and youth clubs – that can prevent crime and drug dependency before it starts.
Along with this, in a box titled 'More Police' highlighting their key criminal justice policies:
• 5,000 extra police a year
• Less paperwork and political correctness
• More rehab places for addicts
• Tougher sentences for career criminals
• Prisoners to serve their sentences in full