Russell Webster - Work with Offenders
Work with Offenders has the latest on Project ADDER
Today (20 January 2021) the Home Office and Department of Health jointly announced a £148 million of investment to tackle drug-related crime.
The package of investment attempts to take a systemwide approach tackling drugs. Alongside extra resources to law enforcement to try to dismantle organised crime groups and disrupt the supply of drugs, it also invests the first new money for many years in drug treatment and recovery, in order to help cut drug-related crime and interrupt the cycle of addiction and reoffending.
The Home Office claims that the new money will double the funding available for police services to tackle county lines drug dealing gangs and bring “drug kingpins” to justice. It says that an additional £40 million will bring the total invested in tackling professional drug dealing to £65 million since November 2019.
The government also announced that an additional £28 million will be invested in piloting a new initiative known as Project ADDER. Reminiscent of the multi-million pound Drugs Intervention Programme launched under the Labour government in the early 2000s, ADDER is described as a new intensive approach to tackling drug misuse, which combines targeted and tougher policing with enhanced treatment and recovery services.
Project ADDER (which stands for Addiction, Diversion, Disruption, Enforcement and Recovery) will bring together partners including the police, local councils and health services, and run for three financial years in five areas with some of the highest rates of drug misuse: Blackpool, Hastings, Middlesbrough, Norwich and Swansea Bay. The amount of funding ranges from £1 million for Swansea Bay up to £4.8 million for both Blackpool and Norwich.
The funding is designed to allow the police to target local gang leaders driving the drugs trade while better helping people to recover from addictions. Work with offenders readers will be familiar with the Heroin Assisted Treatment programme already in operation in Middlesbrough which aims to tackle drug-related crime by providing an enhanced treatment service to a small number of opiate-dependent individuals responsible for high volumes of crime.
At the same time, the Department of Health announced that an extra £80 million will also be invested in drug treatment services right across England to give more support to offenders with drink and drug addictions, which can fuel crime.
This new money will increase the number of treatment places for prison leavers and offenders diverted into community sentences. As part of this package, £2.5 million will also be invested in providing continuity of care for prisoners on release to avoid this becoming a crisis point. The enhanced RECONNECT service supports offenders with complex needs to engage with and get the right treatment from mental health, substance misuse and other services, for up to a year after release. Offenders will be supported by expert care navigators working with health and probation services.
The RECONNECT service attempts to fix a persistent problem continuity of care for people who use the opportunity of prison to engage in drug treatment. The proportion of people who participate in treatment for their opiate dependency in prison but fail to engage with community treatment services on release has been 65% or higher for many years.
While drug and alcohol commentators have welcomed this new investment, many have not been slow to point out that this additional £80 million is only a small fraction of the funding that has been lost to community drug and alcohol treatment services over the last decade.
Many also see the announcement in the context of Professor Dame Carol Black’s independent review of drugs. The first part of the Black review which was published last year was extremely critical of the government’s underfunding in this area and the second part of her review, focusing on treatment, recovery and prevention, has already been completed and is due for publication soon.