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FPH and ADPH welcome Home Affairs Committee report on Drugs

Today, we have welcomed a report from the Home Affairs Committee on the cost of drugs to society in a joint response with the Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH).

The report, which looks at illegal drug use and its effects on society and the economy, has made a number of recommendations to Government that supports greater use of public health based drug interventions.

Greg Fell, ADPH Vice President, said:

“We are very pleased to see that some of the Committee’s recommendations reflect the evidence we submitted. While there is still much more that could be done, what is important now is that the Government pay attention to this report and take proactive steps to improve how we tackle drug use that aren’t solely based on punitive actions.”

The report’s emphasis on reducing the harm caused by drug use is particularly welcome and initiatives such as drug checking, overdose prevention centres, needle and syringe programmes, diamorphine assisted therapy and naloxone provision. It is important too that the voices of people who use drugs are heard and that the stigma associated with drug use is reduced.

Fell added, “The current legislation must be reformed to address the widespread harm – both to individuals and the economy – caused by drug use and the current drug policy in this country.

“While today’s report makes some sound recommendations, all too often such evidence-based interventions are overlooked in favour of headline-grabbing quick-fix initiatives that do little to change the overall situation. This can be immensely frustrating to those public health professionals who work together on the ground to improve people’s health and wellbeing as we know that these interventions work.”

Professor Tracy Daszkiewicz, FPH Vice President, said:

“With drug deaths at record levels across the UK we urgently need a sensible, public health approach to preventing harm from drug use.

“Following Scottish Government’s recent report on ‘A Caring, Compassionate and Human Rights Informed Drug Policy for Scotland’, we welcome today’s report from the Home Affairs Committee which takes significant steps to outline an evidence-based approach to drug policy, prioritising harm reduction over punishing vulnerable people who use drugs.

“We are pleased to see the inclusion of several of our recommendations on drug policy in the report, including reforming the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001. A comprehensive reform of this legislation is overdue, including amendments to make it easier to pilot overdose prevention centres in the UK.

“We hope that Government will properly consider the advice of the Committee and the voice of the public health experts who support these life-saving interventions.”

Published 31 August 2023

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