The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, has made his main asks to government ahead of their Drugs Summit in Glasgow on Thursday (27th February 2020).
David Jamieson has published a report setting out a number of key recommendations on how to change the UK’s drug policy, to reduce harm, crime and save the taxpayer money.
Currently, the cost of heroin and cocaine alone is estimated to be costing the West Midlands economy £1.4 billion each year, a figure which the Police and Crime Commissioner has been working to reduce.
The Police and Crime Commissioner’s key asks this week are:
• To establish a sensible debate about the future of drug policy, with a focus on pragmatic solutions
• Reform of the Proceeds of Crime Act which ensures that forces get a greater share of the money they seize from criminals, rather than be retained by Home Office.
• To call on public bodies to roll out the use of the lifesaving drug naloxone, and follow the lead of the West Midlands who are the first force in the country to begin equipping officers with it.
Speaking ahead of the summit, the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson said: “For too long, the debate around drugs has not focused on what we really need, which is to reduce harm, reduce deaths and save the taxpayer money.
“A person dies from drug poisoning every three days in the West Midlands, with someone dying every four hours in England. At a huge cost to the taxpayer, the cost of each chaotic drug user to the taxpayer is over £60,000 each year. The total cost to just the West Midlands economy is estimated to be £1.4 billion – this is staggering and we can very easily reduce this cost.
“First we need to come to a position where talking about drug policy is not taboo, and we can have an open and honest debate about what has worked and failed in the past and to learn from that.”
Commenting on changes to the Proceeds of Crime Act, the PCC said: “Currently, police forces only receive a fraction of the money they seize under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), meaning they are spending a lot of time for little gain. An increased return to the force would help undermine the illicit business by creating a funding stream to support those with addiction into recovery.
“Reforming POCA would give police forces a greater incentive to seize the ill-gotten gains of criminals, take away their money and their assets.
“I have, this year, used money from POCA to fund a new unit of financial investigators to seize money from criminals by going after their bank accounts. The money they seize will pay for the running costs of the team and to support those with addiction problems.
“This would particularly help in the fight against high end drug dealers profiting from the misery of others.”
David Jamieson added: “An area where we could do much better in reducing harm would be rolling out the lifesaving drug naloxone. We’ve equipped our Birmingham City Centre officers with the drug, which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
“The drug, which can be administered as a nasal spray or used like an epi-pen is a key tool which is helping West Midlands officers save lives.
“I would urge the government to call on other public bodies, such as local councils, the fire service, public health practitioners and others to carry the drug so we can drive down drug related deaths across the country.”
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