The Narcotics Menace: Prevention is key to drugs initiative: National campaign based on education and rehabilitation to target schoolchildren and addicts

THE Government's new anti-drug initiative is a tacit acceptance that the traditional methods of law enforcement and punishment have had only a minimal impact on the escalating drug menace in Britain.

Conservative estimates put the illicit business in the UK alone at about pounds 3bn. The numbers of people dabbling in drugs has burgeoned with one-third of all young men using one substance or another. Users have become younger with 3 per cent of 12- and 13-year- olds admitting trying them.

The number of addicts has risen fivefold in the last 10 years to 28,000.

Seizures of hard drugs such as cocaine, crack and heroin have tripled. The number of drug offenders has more than doubled, to 56,000. And a report by the Institute for the Study of Drug Dependency yesterday put the cost of drug-related crime - users stealing to fund habits - at pounds 864m.

A nationally co-ordinated approach with the emphasis on prevention, rehabilitation and education - particularly among young children - is something that drug workers have long advocated. A variety of drugs are available in playgrounds and even children as young as 10 are experimenting with solvents, cannabis, sleeping pills and hallucinogens.

Yesterday, moving away from the Government's former shock tactics to deter young people, Gillian Shephard, Secretary of State for Education, said the aim was to give children the confidence to say 'no' to drugs in the face of peer pressure.

The Green Paper acknowleded that as part of adolescence and maturing, young people may well experiment with drugs. Rather than encouraging expulsion of children caught using drugs it calls for schools to ensure they have access to advice, counselling and treatment. It also promotes closer links between schools, the police and all other agencies that work with young people.

Putting drug education 'firmly on the school agenda' the department will fund programmes to train teachers and start anti-drugs projects in primary as well as secondary schools, where drug education forms part of the National Curriculum. Concern has been expressed that teachers know less about drugs than their pupils.

Young people and parents are also the focus of the Government's new pounds 5m advertising campaign which will stress the dangers of drugs, while educating children to decline narcotics and underline their illegality. A new drugs helpline will be launched in April.

Aiming specifically at users and addicts, the Government will be promoting outreach projects which provide syringe and needle exchanges. And in a move to help get addicts off their habit, rehabilitation schemes, including the effectiveness of prescribing methadone as a substitute for heroin, will be re-evaluated.

One of the most ambitious projects outlined in the Green Paper is the setting up of 100 local drug action teams. They will be made up of education, police, health and prison officials and backed by funding of pounds 8.5m.

Health advice and access to treatment is to be improved alongside a firm overall policy to encourage abusers to kick the habit.

Stressing that law enforcement still had a major role to play in the fight against drugs, particularly at ports, where ever-growing consignments are being shipped in, Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, said combating drugs would be a key objective for every police force. Each would be asked to draw up its own stategy.

While the drugs initiative was generally welcomed yesterday by opposition parties and narcotics groups, it was Mr Howard's other initiative - plans to introduce compulsory drug testing in prisons - which drew criticism.

About 60,000 random tests a year on inmates will take place, at a cost of about pounds 500,000. Prisoners testing positive risk serving an extra 28 days and the Prison Service may also reintroduce closed visits - where prisoners and visitors have no physical contact.

Jane Goodsir, chair of Scoda, the national umbrella organisation for drugs services in England and Wales, said: 'We do not see how compulsory drug testing of prisoners will lead to anything but disruption and unrest in an already turbulent prison system.'

The Government's key proposals are: One hundred Drug Action teams to tackle local drug misuse; A national drug helpline; Access to treatment for misuse; Training for teachers and guidance for schools; Tougher drug controls in prisons; Police, probation and prison service to develop co-ordinated strategies for dealing with drug misuse; Drug-related criminal activity to be targeted as key police objective.

Leading article, page 17

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Sport
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Voices
voices
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
health Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries are at risk of tinnitus
News
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower