Submitted by Mrs D Kay Roberts
1. I am grateful for the opportunity to
submit written evidence to the first major enquiry of the new
Parliament that is reviewing the Government's drugs policy: is
2. Does existing drugs policy work?
To a certain extent yes. The increased
funding that has been made available to address the four pillars
of the strategy are to be welcomed. However, as noted by Lady
Runciman in the Police Foundation Report, there continue to be
problems relating to legislation that have not been addressed.
Thirty years have passed since the Misuse of Drugs Act came into
force. There is an urgent need for amendments and changes to be
made so that the Act reflects 21st century practice and experience.
Particular areas of concern are:
Section 9A and drug paraphernalia. There is increasing evidence
that Hepatitis C transmission could be reduced if needle exchanges
were able to supply, filters, citric acid, water for injections,
swabs etc. The provision of clean, small sachets of citric acid
together with advice on safe use would contribute to the reduction
of injection-related injuries.
The own handwriting requirements
for prescribers and the need for pharmacists to record every single
daily supply of methadone and other Controlled Drugs could be
repealed as it is now possible for prescriptions to be computer
generated and for pharmacists to hold computer records of medication
supplies. Some pharmacists are currently recording details of
over 100 daily instalments each day, by hand in their CD Register.
The current legislation makes it
difficult for more innovative ways to be explored for the provision
of services. One of the Government's targets is to increase the
number of drug users in contact with services and in treatment.
This can only be achieved if the services are able to cope with
3. What would be the effect of de-criminalisation
on (a) the availability of, and demand for, drugs (b) drug-related
In my opinion de-criminalisation
would have a positive impact on the incidence of drug-related
deaths. Fear of arrest/prosecution, often results in the emergency
services not being called to in the case of overdose. I do not
believe that criminalising the users of drugs has any beneficial
effect whatsoever. Penalties for drug trafficking/dealing etc.
are another matter entirely and should remain a criminal offence.
As for availability and demand, there
does appear to be a link between these and incarceration in prison.
If drug users were treated in the community rather than being
given custodial sentences, there may indeed be a reduction in
4. Is de-criminalisation desirable?
I agree that this should be the case
for trafficking or supply. It is difficult enough for most drug
users to become re-integrated into society without having a criminal
record as well. Too often the initial cause of drug use is deprivation,
poor housing, unemployment etc. Having a criminal record just
adds to the problems and solves nothing. Treatment and assistance
in dealing with education, work and housing relationships would
be far more beneficial.