As the cross-government minister with responsibility for combating drugs, I am pleased to announce today the publication of guidance for local partners helping to deliver the commitments and ambitions laid out in the 10-year drugs strategy by this government in December.
This is an important next step in the ambitious whole-of-government plan to cut crime, save lives, and sets out a framework to help local partners reduce drug-related harm and monitor their progress.
Drugs can have devastating effects on individuals, families and neighbourhoods, and the cost to society is nearly £20 billion a year in England alone. Drug-related deaths are at the highest levels recorded, and drug use is associated with nearly half of all homicides and acquisitive crimes such as robberies, burglaries, and thefts. The drivers behind drug-related harm are clearly complex and cut across the responsibilities of a range of different organisations.
As a result, dedicated funding of nearly £900m was announced with the strategy in December, taking the investment in combating drugs to £3 billion over three years across enforcement, treatment and recovery, and demand reduction.
Now, as the focus turns to implementation and delivery, local partners such as local authorities, public health services, police forces, prisons, and probation services are being asked to step up and fulfil their collective role as the engine room of this drugs strategy. It is these local delivery partners that are best placed to address the needs of their local communities.
The new guidance provides an important framework for how local partners in England should work together to reduce drug-related harm and drive join up across sectors and a framework for Combating Drugs Partnerships. A single Senior Responsible Owner (SRO) in each locality will chair these partnerships and be responsible for reporting to central government on local cross-cutting delivery against the National Combating Drugs Outcomes Framework, alongside their own specific organisational objectives.
The outcomes and metrics included in the framework aim to provide a clear line of sight between action and the impact experienced by individuals, families, and neighbourhoods across the country and in local areas. This is how delivery of the commitments and ambitions of the 10-year drugs strategy to level up the country will be most effectively monitored. The potential benefits are significant and wide-ranging, including improving people’s safety, productivity and wider health and well-being.
I look forward to confirmation of the partnerships and working with the local SROs.
While this guidance is aimed primarily at partners in England, we have referenced Wales where it touches on reserved matters. More broadly we will continue to work with the devolved administrations to embed collaboration on these issues.
The guidance will be available on gov.uk and placed in the libraries of both Houses.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords