Drug Crime

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:47 pm on 20th April 2022.

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Photo of Kit Malthouse Kit Malthouse The Minister of State, Home Department, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, Minister of State (Ministry of Justice and Home Office) 4:47 pm, 20th April 2022

I will come to those in a moment. The hon. Lady will be interested to know that I had a meeting with the Children’s Society just this morning, in my capacity as a constituency MP, to discuss those issues. I am giving consideration to its proposals. We recognise that this trade particularly exploits young people. In my own constituency, we have had some appalling events—young people stabbed and, in one case, killed, where neither victim nor perpetrator was from Andover. Both, in various ways, were victimised and exploited in the drugs industry.

Many Members have mentioned that if we are to have an impact on drugs, we must have a co-ordinated set of actions. We recognise that the complexity of the drugs problem means that we absolutely must be effective in co-ordinating those other partners—local government, other treatment delivery partners, enforcement, prevention and education. They all must come together to form a coalition as a foundation of our strategy, and they are often best placed to establish the priorities and to devise ways of working to address the needs of their local communities as quickly and effectively as possible. This spring we will publish guidance for local areas in England on working in partnerships to reduce drug-related harm.

But we have not been waiting for our strategy or the guidance. I will finish by highlighting some of the work we have been doing already. Alongside the very assertive work we have been doing on county lines in Keighley and elsewhere, some 18 months ago we established a set of projects in 13 areas of the country that are most exploited by drugs gangs and that have the most appalling drug use statistics. Project ADDER, which stands for addiction, diversion, disruption, enforcement and recovery, has been running since November 2020. In effect, it brings together all those people who are focused on dealing with the drugs problem to focus in the same place, at the same time, on the same people, so that all their work can be leveraged. Those projects have had positive results. In particular, law enforcement plays a big part in restricting the amount of drugs in a particular geography, making sure that as the therapeutic treatments come alongside those individuals, they are less likely to walk out of their appointment with a drugs councillor and into the arms of a dealer. There have been big increases in disruptions and arrests in those areas, as well as a large increase in the numbers of people referred to treatment, and some heartwarming stories of people who have been rescued and brought into a better life.