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LETTER: Street homeless: the last Straw

From Ms Alison Dewar

Sir: So Jack Straw wants to reclaim the streets from drug addicts and other "aggressive merchants" ("Straw sets agenda for reclaiming the streets", 5 September).

He would be wise to heed the views of those who work with drug users. The Association of Chief Police Officers in its response earlier this year to the Government's consultation document Tackling Drugs Together called for "the provision of adequate, properly resourced local drugs treatment services which can provide prompt and effective assistance" to those arrested for drug offences.

It cannot be any coincidence that in Greater London, for example, 80 per cent of those using drug treatment services are unemployed. The community benefit will come when policymakers put in place a comprehensive and integrated package of measures including care, treatment, accommodation and jobs for marginalised groups such as drug addicts. Any "get tough" policy without these elements will be ineffective.

Yours faithfully,

Alison Dewar

Head of Communications

Standing Conference on

Drug Abuse

London, SE1

5 September