Thursday, July 31, 2008

Transform transformed - our new strategy and structure

Transform’s Board has recently carried out a comprehensive review of the organisation and the challenges we face over the next few years.

It has become clear that attaining a rational drug policy cannot be achieved by an exclusive focus on the Home Office and relevant politicians. To accomplish change we need to engage with opinion formers and decision makers on a much wider basis. We need to achieve policy climate change. Transform’s Board has agreed to prioritise work over the next five years in three key areas.

Firstly we will be highlighting the international dimensions to drug policy. Drug policy in the UK and other states is underpinned by a number of international treaties that are based on the principles of prohibition. The harms caused by drug policy and the ‘war on drugs’ are international, with the trail of harm generated by prohibition stretching from producer countries, through transit nations to user countries. In all cases these harms are disproportionately experienced by the poorest and least powerful members of society. As well as highlighting these international consequences within Transform’s work we will be looking at developing a number of alliances, that will include both organisations based and operating in other countries and UK organisations who work internationally.

Secondly Transform will be focusing on promoting wellbeing as the key paradigm for drug policy. In partnership with a number of academics we are looking at developing methodologies that allow the wellbeing impact of both existing and proposed drug policy regimes to be evaluated. This work will underpin our continued campaigning for the transfer of drug policy responsibility away from criminal justice agencies to public health authorities. The law enforcement strategies central to current drug policy generate considerable additional harms and have clearly failed. A public health and wellbeing approach to drug policy would be much more effective. However, to achieve this we need to build a wide coalition within the heath and allied professions in support of such an approach.

A major aspect of this work will be supporting the development of the Drugs and Health Alliance (DHA). The DHA is a coalition of agencies campaigning for drug policy to move away from failed criminal justice approaches and instead adopt a public health approach. Transform provides the secretariat for the DHA and in that capacity has recently received funding from the Pilgrim Trust which has enabled us to recruit Francesca Solmi as its co-ordinator. Francesca has a BA in International Relations from Sussex University and a Masters Degree in International Relations and Health Policy from SAISJohns Hopkins University. Before joining the DHA she worked with the World Health Organisation on Child Environmental Health issues. She has also interned for the Food and Agricultural Organisation in Rome, and for the United Nations Development Program’s liaison office in Washington DC. Francesca will be based in London and will be working for the Drugs and Health Alliance 2.5 days per week.

Thirdly we will be focusing on the economic impact of prohibition based drug policies. We will be carrying out or commissioning a number of studies to identify the cost of existing policies; both to public finances and to the wider economy. These will be supplemented by further work identifying the benefits of alternative policies based on legal regulation and control. This strand of our work will set out the strong economic case for adopting rational drug policies and further broaden the coalition supporting drug policy reform.

In addition to this refocusing of our research and campaigning work we have reviewed how we are organised and established a new organisational structure. This structure will see Transform’s staff organised into three teams, Research, Policy and Communications, and Operations. The Research team will be responsible for developing Transform’s ‘product’ both through directly produced work and by managing commissioned research projects. Steve Rolles, who has been the lead author of all our major publications would become the Head of Research and will work with Emily Crick our Research Associate. Steve is based in London and Emily in Bristol.

The Policy and Campaigns team will disseminate our material and communicating the case for change. Danny Kushlick moves to a new post as Head of Policy and Communications to head up this team and will be working with Martin Powell, our new Communications Associate. Martin brings with him extensive experience of working in the charitable sector having spent over ten years at environmental and international development campaign groups including Friends of the Earth, the World Development Movement and as Co-Chair of the Jubilee Debt Campaign. Martin has a degree in applied chemistry and a postgraduate diploma in environmental science, policy and planning. Office based volunteers, student placements and interns will supplement these teams. Francesca Solmi the DHA’s co-ordinator will be based in this team.

The third team, Operations will focus on Transform’s funding and organisational management. A new post of ‘Director of Operations’ is being established with overall responsibility for management of the organisation. This post will work closely with Jane Slater, Operations Co-ordinator and they will both focus on human resources, funding, finances and project management. John Moore is currently filling this post on an interim basis.

The new strategy opens up a range of exciting possibilities for Transform and the restructuring utilises the strengths of our staff, enabling us to maximise Transform’s impact and influence.


Anonymous said...

Excellent news. The economic angle is certainly the best way to turn some politicians. £4billion was spent last year in the UK on criminal justice for class A drug offences whilst the authorities seized around £583million of a £5.3billion industry. Sounds good on a press release, but essentially they have spent £3.4billion whilst allowing £4.7billion to go into the hands of organised criminals.

If this is in the UK alone, who knows what the wastage is across the globe. It baffles me to think that the government wouldn't prefer to spend that £4billion on education and rehabilitation of its citizens and still profit to the tune of £1.3billion to put into services for the country, or bombing small countries, whatever floats their particular boat this week.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear it. I hope this means more success for Transform.