Drug-Related Crime

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 27th October 2008.

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Photo of Simon Burns Simon Burns Opposition Whip (Commons) 2:30 pm, 27th October 2008

What recent assessment she has made of the effectiveness of measures to combat drug-related crime.

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Photo of Vernon Coaker Vernon Coaker Minister of State (Home Office) (Policing, Crime & Security)

Recorded acquisitive crime—to which drug-related crime makes a significant contribution—has fallen by 28 per cent. since 2002-03.

We have invested heavily in the drug treatment system and we know that treatment works. For every £1 spent on treatment, at least £9.50 is saved in crime and health costs.

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Photo of Simon Burns Simon Burns Opposition Whip (Commons)

Will the Minister confirm that between 2005 and 2007, the number of successful police raids on cannabis factories doubled from 2,500 to 5,000? Does he believe that there is any correlation between the increase in cannabis factories and the reclassification of cannabis as a class C drug?

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Photo of Vernon Coaker Vernon Coaker Minister of State (Home Office) (Policing, Crime & Security)

The number of successful raids on cannabis farms has increased, and one of the ways we wish to deal with supply is through the reclassification of cannabis from C to B. In particular, it is important that we take account of the sort of cannabis that is now available on our streets, which is skunk, a super-strength cannabis. That is why we intend to put before Parliament the necessary measures to reclassify cannabis from C to B. I notice that the Leader of the Opposition has also changed his position on what class cannabis ought to be.

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Photo of Bob Spink Bob Spink UKIP, Castle Point

There are very few people in this House who have done as much as this Minister to tackle the drugs issue over the years, so I congratulate him. Is he aware of the terrible problems caused by the date-rape drug, gamma-butyrolactone, and will he take action to control that drug?

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Photo of Vernon Coaker Vernon Coaker Minister of State (Home Office) (Policing, Crime & Security)

I will have a look at the date-rape drug that the hon. Gentleman mentioned—I will not attempt to pronounce it. We will, of course, consider any drug that is brought to our attention, whether old or new, and take the appropriate and necessary action.

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Photo of Julian Brazier Julian Brazier Shadow Minister (Transport)

Would the Minister confirm that, according to a number of measures, Britain has the worst drug problem in Europe? Would he further confirm that four fifths of all drug treatment and testing orders have come to an unsuccessful conclusion, and that only 5 per cent. of drug treatment in this country is abstinence based?

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Photo of Vernon Coaker Vernon Coaker Minister of State (Home Office) (Policing, Crime & Security)

I can confirm the following to the hon. Gentleman: if he looks at the new 10-year drug strategy that we published, he will see the use of the word abstinence, and will see that abstinence is part of the menu of options that should be made available to people who have a drug problem. Indeed, he will also know that we have received clinical advice that we should ensure that it is part of a menu of options, rather than the only option available to someone abusing drugs. I also point out that by any standard—for example, the British crime survey measurement—overall drug use is falling in the adult population, and it is falling among young people in particular. We ought to celebrate those facts, as well as deal with the issues that the hon. Gentleman highlights.

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