Middle-class drug addicts must be targeted as part of a 10-year strategy to be announced by Boris Johnson’s government that will place a strong emphasis on sanctions in the era of the drug war.
So-called “lifestyle” users of Class A drugs risk losing their passport or driver’s license under proposals designed to target high-net-worth professionals who the government says conduct exploitative practices with their application.
Police officers will have the power to go through the phones of drug traffickers and contact their clients with drug use warnings in an attempt to scare them into changing their behavior.
The government’s 10-year drugs strategy will be released on Monday and will place a strong emphasis on targeting users and providers, including the gangs behind the so-called county lines phenomenon, which often sees young people. and vulnerable people turn into cross-country mules.
But drug reform activists have criticized the UK government for ‘backing down’ in taking an approach based on criminal sanctions while other countries and federal states are taking more progressive approaches, such as the legalization of cannabis in Canada. .
Some of the measures that will be presented in the drug strategy include:
- Contact clients on the basis of phones seized by drug traffickers with a series of messages to discourage their drug use and direct them to assistance.
- A pledge to dismantle over 2,000 county lines and make thousands more arrests.
- Investing up to £ 145million in the County Lines program, targeting road and rail networks, protecting exploited people and helping them rebuild their lives.
- Expand drug testing on arrest – help police forces test more people.
- Develop out-of-court elimination projects to ensure that those who abuse drugs face more severe consequences.
- The largest ever increase in investment in treatment and recovery, which would be made available to 50 local authorities.
The announcement comes as the number of drug poisoning deaths hit an all-time high, having increased by nearly 80% since 2012.
Niamh Eastwood, executive director of thinktank Release, said: “While increased funding for drug treatment is welcome, the focus on more punitive sentences for people who supply drugs is a continuation of ‘a tired and harsh drug story, the one we got. in the UK for decades.
“This failed policy will do little to tackle the high rates of drug-related deaths, which over the past decade have increased year on year, with some of the highest rates in Europe.
“As New York announces the opening of drug consumption rooms, Germany moves to legalize cannabis, as many states in the United States and Canada have already done, and more than 30 countries have ended the criminal penalties for drug possession – Britain steps back, taking a Nixon – ‘war on drugs’ style approach.
Yvette Cooper, the shadow Home Secretary, said: “Too often the government makes big promises but either does not keep or does the opposite. Drug use is on the rise, serious violence is on the rise, antisocial behavior is on the rise. More and more offenders are getting away with their crimes as global prosecutions have collapsed. Any government action must be significant enough to repair the damage they have caused. “
The government has said it will in due course issue a white paper that will examine new measures to reduce demand and deter people from using illegal drugs through “more significant consequences.”
“We have to look for new ways to penalize them. Things that will really interfere with their lives, ”the Prime Minister told The Sun on Sunday. “So we will consider withdrawing their passports and driver’s licenses. “
He added, “What I want to see is a world in which we have penalties for lifestyle drug users who will seriously interfere with their enjoyment of their own lifestyle. “
The civil penalties will be modeled after the penalties already used against parents who fail to pay child support and restraining orders for football hooligans, the Sun said.
The government announced in July that it would establish a new unit to help end illnesses and deaths from illegal drugs, as part two of Dame Carol Black’s independent drug review was released.
The first phase of the review, which was published in February, estimated that there were 300,000 opioid or crack users in England, and that around 1 million people had used cocaine during the period. past year.
Black’s review estimated the illicit drug market in the UK to be worth £ 9.4bn per year, but cost society more than double that figure in terms of health impacts, the crime and society.