Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Spin tries to hide the £100 billion crime cost of the UK drug strategy

Transform News Release. 25 July 2007

Spin tries to hide the £100 billion crime cost of the UK drug strategy

Today (Wed 25 July) the Government has published its long awaited consultation paper on the future of its drug strategy. Transform, the UK’s leading centre of expertise on drug policy reform argue that it uses spin and rhetoric in an attempt to dress up failure as success, and fails victims by refusing to tackle the causes of drug crime.

Danny Kushlick, Transform Director said:

“Government drug policy has resulted in crime costs of over £100 billion in the last decade. Organised crime make billions every year from a totally unregulated and untaxed illegal drug trade. The government appears committed to continuing the nightmare for victims of crime who will continue to experience the chaos of violent unregulated street markets, and the thefts and robberies that result from the high cost of maintaining an illegal heroin or crack cocaine habit.

“The Government is spinning failure as success. The simple fact is that the UK drug strategy has failed to reduce drug use and failed to reduce drug supply. Class A drug use by young people, whilst stable, is at its highest ever level and is the highest in Europe. It is the use of heroin and cocaine, the drugs identified by the Government as causing the most harm, that have seen the most dramatic rise in use over the last 10 years. They have cherry picked and misrepresented statistics to try and demonstrate success when the general pattern has be rising use and rising harm, especially amongst the most vulnerable groups”.

“Cannabis reclassification is a red herring. On 6 June Gordon Brown was asked during Labour Party Leadership hustings if he would be reviewing cannabis classification. He answered, no. On 18 July he told Parliament that he would be referring cannabis back to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. All that had happened in the intervening period was the publication of the Tory policy paper on drugs that had called for cannabis to be reclassified back to Class B. The announcement was all about politics and nothing to do with science.”

“Drugs are dangerous and do cause real harm. However, the Government appears committed to a drug policy that criminalises the poorest and most disadvantaged in our community, grants a multi-billion pound monopoly to organised crime and dramatically increases the harms suffered by our communities. Through spin Gordon Brown’s government has failed the hundreds of thousand of victims of drug related crime. Transform and other organisations will use the consultation period to highlight policy options to reduce drug harm. We hope the Government will listen. If not they will be responsible for the ‘violence, disruption, harassment and intimidation’ they admit blight many communities under the current drug policy.”


Notes for editors:

A detailed critique of how Government spins its drugs figures

Transform press release on the recent cannabis classification announcement

Transform fact research guide with headline figures, links to key data sources official and Independent, and comment and analysis.

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