Minister urges new approach in drugs war

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The Government needs to be more ambitious in the drugs war as it aims to make users free of addiction under new plans, a Home Office minister said today.

Crime prevention minister James Brokenshire said a new approach was needed and added: "We want users to be clear of addiction."



The move comes after drugs charities criticised Government plans to withdraw welfare benefits from addicts who refuse treatment.



Mr Brokenshire said: "We need a new approach and need to be more ambitious. More focus on a pathway to recovery, so users are free of addiction and can contribute to society."



He went on: "We want users to be clear of addiction.



"However, we acknowledge that stabilising someone is still a part of that process, particularly in relation to chaotic and vulnerable users such as sex workers.



"Stabilising users can then lead to a pathway of recovery where they are free of drugs and can contribute to society by gaining employment, not held in addiction."



It marks a clear shift from the Labour government's emphasis on reducing the harm caused by drugs rather than getting addicts off drugs.



Last week, the DrugScope charity said there was no evidence that the prospect of some form of "financial benefit sanction" for claimants who failed to address their drug or alcohol dependency would work, warning that it could breach fundamental principles of the NHS.



And a leading doctor called for the UK to take a fresh look at its drugs laws, saying there was a strong case for putting a regulatory framework around illicit drugs, rather than the current ban.



Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, former president of the Royal College of Physicians, said the Government should consider decriminalising drugs because the blanket ban had failed to cut crime or improve health.

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