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Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy
Canadian Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs
Volume 3 - Public Policy Options

Chapter 20 - Public Policy In Other Countries - UK


Because of the complexity of the drug problem, many different departments and organizations are involved in implementing the UK drug strategy. The key organizations in the UK’s drug strategy are the drug action teams at the local level, which are responsible for ensuring that the strategy is translated into concrete action.



Public costs

In 1997/1998, most of the costs were directed at enforcement. The total expenditure of £1.4 billion was spent on the following activities:

··          drug misuse, enforcement and international supply reduction accounted for 75% (enforcement includes police, court, probation, and prisons – 62%; international supply, which encompasses customs and excise, Foreign and Commonwealth Officer – 13%);

··          treatment and rehabilitation–13%; and

··          education and prevention–12%.[1][95]


Following a comprehensive spending review in 1998, an additional £217 million were to be allocated over a three-year period to drug activities. "A substantial share of these new funds will be directed at initiatives designed to break the link between drug misuse and crime, including Arrest Referral Schemes and Drug Treatment and Testing Orders. The idea is to provide every drug misusing offender entering a police station or prison with a chance to seek treatment by the year 2002."[2][96] The extra funds were to be spent as follows:

··          £133 million for the implementation of the strategy to tackle drug misuse in the criminal justice system.

··          Prisons would receive £60 million for treatment services and £12 million for voluntary drug testing in prisons.

··          £61 million for the piloting and implementation of Drug Treatment & Testing Orders.

··          £70.5 million would be allocated to health and local authorities to fund new treatment services and to improve community care for drug misusers.

··          Health Authorities would receive £50 million for treatment services and for young people at risk.

··          Local Authorities would receive £20.5 million to improve access to services and increase numbers in treatment programs.

··          £10.5 million would be allocated to support Drug Action Teams across the country and for national research into effectiveness of anti-drugs activity.

··          £3 million would be allocated to support cross-departmental development of more effective drugs education.

··          £6 million over 3 years would be provided for a major new research program.

··          An extra £3 million would be available from the Confiscated Assets Fund in 1999/2000, to be increased to £5 million and £7 million in subsequent years.[3][97]


Social costs

The UK Anti-Drugs Co-ordinator’s Annual Report 1999/2000 stated that drug misuse costs Britain over £4 billion per year in crime, sickness and absenteeism. In addition, it was estimated that one-third of property crime is related to drugs.



[1][95]  Tackling Drugs to Build a Better Britain, The Government’s Ten‑Year Strategy for Tackling Drugs Misuse, April 1998, in the chapter entitled: "Resourcing and Managing the Work".

[2][96]  DrugScope, UK Drug Situation 2000. The UK Report to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, November 2000, page 7.

[3][97]  Ibid., page 11‑12.

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