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Public health leaders urge radical rethink after record number of drug deaths

Figures published by the Office for National Statistics today (9/9/2016) showing a record number of deaths involving drug misuse in England and Wales have reinforced the call by the Faculty of Public Health (FPH) for the Government to switch its focus from prosecution to treatment.

FPH supported a recent report published by the Royal Society for Public Health that called for the decriminalisation of possession and use of drugs.

Professor Simon Capewell, FPH Vice President, said: "These statistics are a wake-up call. They are a tragic signal that the punitive 'war on drugs' approach has failed - failed our society and failed some of our most vulnerable people."

Also today, Public Health England published a report investigating the rise of drug-related deaths. FPH strongly backs the report’s call for improved and sustained access to drug treatment services – particularly targeting ‘hard to reach’ groups.

Some FPH members tell us that funding for drug treatment services is being slashed at a time when it clearly needs to be increasing.

Professor Capewell said: "The resources spent fighting an unwinnable 'war on drugs' should be invested in prevention treatment services. These are a cost-saving and evidence-based approach to tackling the root causes."

Written: 09/09/2016 , last modified: 18/10/2016