We welcome the Health and Social Care Committee’s latest report (First report of Session 2019-20, Drugs Policy - HC 143) published today (23 October 2019) which calls for a radical new approach to the country’s current drug policy.
Its findings and recommendations mean that we could have, for the first time in many years, a policy which would be fit for purpose: one that deals with 21st century issues and gets to the heart of the matter.
A health focused and harm reduction approach would not only benefit those who are using drugs but would reduce the harm to and the costs for our society as a whole.
We also strongly support the Committee’s recommendation that a fundamental change is required to address the shameful number of drug-related deaths in the UK, which are some of the highest in Europe, particularly in Scotland.
Moving away from a criminal justice to a healthcare-led approach, with responsibility for drugs policy moving from the Home Office to the Department of Health and Social Care, is a no brainer.
We urge the Government to consult on the decriminalisation of drug possession for personal use from a criminal offence to a civil matter. Evidence shows that the decriminalisation of possession for personal use can not only reduce costs to our criminal justice system, but also allows for more investment in prevention and treatment, resulting in the saving of more lives and providing better protection for our communities.
A holistic, non-judgemental approach is essential if we are to properly address this issue once and for all.
Without significant investment into drug treatment, the number of drug-related deaths will increase, despite the fact that every single drug-related death is preventable.
Yasmin Batliwala, Chair