Enforcement officers, such as police and customs, have admitted the UK drugs market will not be eradicated, an independent report will reveal today.
The study, by the UK Drug Policy Commission, concludes that traditional enforcement actions such as arrests and drug seizures have “no apparent long-term” impact on reducing supply.
In some cases, enforcement even exacerbates the problem such as leading to turf wars or pushing markets to more sensitive areas such as outside schools or residential areas.
The report calls for a new approach that focuses on tackling the specific harms a drugs market has on each area, whether a rise in violence or increased fear of crime.
But the Commission, an independent think-tank, backs policies that could see drugs markets simply moved from one area to another if it causes less problems, rather than being closed down.
It says there will be “difficult decisions” to be made such as “trading-off” a reduction in some harms against an increase in others, such as a drug market being displaced from one locality to another.
The report, entitled Refocusing Drug Related Law Enforcement to Address Harms, also recommends support for the families of arrested drug dealers as another way of reducing harms.
A poll of 400 enforcement officers carried out for the study found 90 per cent accepted “it is very unlikely that the UK drug market will be eradicated in the foreseeable future”.
The report warns drug markets are “large, resilient and quick to adapt” where gaps are quickly filled meaning traditional enforcement has little effect.
Arrests and seizures also have “limited or no sustained” impact on the harms caused to communities, it says.
Markets can cause more “collateral damage” in some areas than others and enforcement action should therefore prioritise the most harmful and tackling the harms specific to each area.
It says all enforcement operations should be assessed to demonstrate they have had a positive impact on communities.
– Article from The Telegraph.