Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Leading public health organisations call for decriminalisation of drug use

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

THE “war on drugs” has failed in terms of public health and drug use should be decriminalised, two leading organisations have said.

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and the Faculty of Public Health (FPH) said the personal possession and use of all illegal drugs should no longer be considered a criminal offence.

While the bodies still support criminal charges for people who deal drugs, they said users should instead be referred for treatment and help.

The recommendation is made in a new UK-wide report, Taking a New Line on Drugs, which has the backing of several charities and law enforcement officials.

It is accompanied by a poll of more than 2,000 adults which found 56% agreed drug users should be referred for treatment instead of facing charges.

The report calls for evidence-based drugs education for young people in schools as part of personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education.

It also said the responsibility for a drugs strategy should be moved from the Home Office to the Department of Health.

Criminalising users leads to long-term harm such as greater exposure to drugs in prison, it argued. Furthermore, family relationships are severely harmed and people face exclusion from education and employment.

Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the RSPH, said: “For too long, UK and global drugs strategies have pursued reductions in drug use as an end in itself, failing to recognise that harsh criminal sanctions have pushed vulnerable people in need of treatment to the margins of society, driving up harm to health and wellbeing even as overall use falls.

“On many levels, in terms of the public’s health, the ‘war on drugs’ has failed. The time has come for a new approach, where we recognise that drug use is a health issue, not a criminal justice issue, and that those who misuse drugs are in need of treatment and support – not criminals in need of punishment.”

Professor John Middleton, president of the FPH, said: “Criminalisation and incarceration for minor, non-violent offences worsen problems linked to illicit drug use, such as social inequality, violence and infection. Possession and use should be decriminalised and health approaches prioritised.”

Baroness Molly Meacher, speaking on behalf of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform, welcomed the report, adding that the current system “criminalises some users of psychoactive drugs whilst very harmful psychoactive drugs including alcohol and tobacco remain legal”.

Ron Hogg, police and crime commissioner for Durham Constabulary, who recently wrote to his counterparts across the country to encourage them to follow his force’s approach of not prosecuting cannabis users, said: “I believe that vulnerable people should be supported to change their lifestyles and break their habits rather than face criminal prosecution, at great expense to themselves and to society.

“The scant resources of the police and the courts are better used tackling the causes of the greatest harm – like the organised crime gangs that keep drugs on our streets and cause misery to thousands of people – rather than giving priority to arresting low-level users.”


READ MORE

Coronation Street’s Beverley Callard joins Mind charity to end stigma over mental health

Meet the man who saw off drink and drug addiction by taking up running