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How to tackle drug abuse in Calderdale

by jamesbaker on 24 June, 2015

As a Councillor I regularly attend Ward forums, time and time again we hear from the Police how hard it is to tackle the numbers of people driving around in cars and dealing drugs on our streets. The police are faced with an imposable task. We have to accept they will never prevent people taking and dealing drugs, this is because it is primarily a social and public health issue rather than a criminal one.

Our neighbours in Portugal have nearly eliminated drugs overdoes. They did this by decriminalizing all drug use, providing addicts with housing rather than jail, shifted funds from policing to treatment and prevention, doubled spending on rehab clinics and provide addicts with jobs skills and training. There is a lot we could be learning from their policy approaches.

This week a former deputy assistant police commissioner in the Metropolitan Police Service, Lord Paddock laid down a series of amendments in the House of Lords to the Government’s psychoactive substances bill. Lord Paddock knows a thing about the tackling drugs from his time in the Police force. His amendments if accepted by the Government would decriminalise the possession of all drugs for personal use and the legalisation of medicinal use of cannabis when it is prescribed by a doctor. This would allow drug users to seek help without the fear of prosecution.

In Calderdale the answer has to be to put more public health resources into helping and supporting those people with addictions rather than trying to deal with them through the criminal justice system. The Police do a fantastic job enforcing the laws politicians create, the problem is in this case politicians have asked them to tackle a social problem as a criminal one.

Calerdale Council has to start tacking drug abuse more seriously as a public health issue. This means that we also need to start treating mental health as seriously as physical health, as underlying mental health conditions are often associated with addictions.

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