The cost to the West Midlands of substance misuse is £1.4 billion every year. That includes the cost to society of drug-related crime, health and social service use and deaths.

Despite the good work being done by many, collectively, drug policy is failing. This failure means the public put up with more crime and public services left under strain. What’s more, not enough is done to reduce the harm to those suffering from addiction. Drug related deaths are at an all-time high for the fourth year in a row.  

Half of all burglary, theft, shoplifting and robbery is committed by people who use heroin or cocaine regularly. This represents one in five crimes reported to West Midlands Police and tens of thousands of victims. Every three days in the West Midlands somebody dies from drug poisoning, with a death every four hours in England.

Despite the good work being done by many, collectively, drug policy is failing. This failure means the public put up with more crime and public services left under strain. What’s more, not enough is done to reduce the harm to those suffering from addiction. Drug related deaths are at an all-time high for the fourth year in a row.  

You can see the problem can be ignored no more. On 15th December 2017 the Police and Crime Commissioner held the West Midlands Drug Policy Summit. It was an opportunity for sensible and mature discussion with organisations involved in drug policy from across the region attending. They were given the opportunity to share their views and shape the agenda through a consultation, which can be viewed in full here.

In response to the views expressed at the summit, the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner has announced how he would like to tackle the problem of drugs. You can read the full report here, but a summary of the main proposals are below.  

The Commissioner’s proposals include:

  • Establishing a formal scheme to divert those suffering from addiction into treatment and away from the courts.
  • Joining-up police, community safety and public health funding streams to increase efficiency and improve outcomes for those suffering from addiction.
  • Prescribing heroin in a medical setting to people suffering from addiction who have not responded to other forms of treatment. This will take the market away from organised criminals and stop people stealing to fund their addiction. Work with the Home Office, who have championed the benefits of Heroin Assisted Treatment.
  • Equipping and training police officers in the application of naloxone – a medication that can be used to help those overdosing.
  • Establishing a Drug Early Warning Programme, to make the public, outreach workers and medical professionals aware of the impact of emerging drugs. The aim is to reduce the number of deaths.
  • Introducing on-site testing in night-time economy areas to reduce the number of deaths and increase the authorities’ intelligence of drugs in circulation.
  • Considering the benefits of Drug Consumption Rooms to assess if they would add value to current services in the West Midlands. Drug Consumption Rooms allow people suffering from addiction to access clean equipment, medical support and drug treatment services.
  • Ensuring more money is seized from large-scale organised criminal gangs, profiting from the misery of the drugs trade. The extra money will be invested in drug treatment programmes.
    The Police and Crime Commissioner wants to see significant progress made against these recommendations by 2020.

The Police and Crime Commissioner wants to see significant progress made against these recommendations by 2020.

West Midlands Drug Policy Recommendations

Drugs in the West Midlands, Substance Misuse Report
05 September 2017
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