The Board considered a report of the Strategic Director, Communities which presented the draft Safer Halton Partnership Drug Strategy 2014-2018 and accompanying evidence document.
The Board was advised that the National Drug Strategy 2010 had changed the focus of drug service delivery from maintenance of individual’s dependent misusing drugs to enabling and promoting recovery. The Substance Misuse Service was a partnership approach to improve the outcomes for individuals and families affected by drug misuse problems as well as reducing the impact of drug related crime and anti-social behaviour for the communities of Halton.
The Board was further advised that the draft Strategy, set out in Appendix A to the report was designed to be a short document that focused on the strategic objectives and priorities linking to a drugs service action plan that would become the focus of the Substance Misuse task group with quarterly themed updates to the Safer Halton Partnership Board and annual amendments and updates. It was reported that the strategy was supported by an evidence paper, set out in Appendix B to the report which outlined the context in which the strategy had been developed including national and local context and supporting data and information on the issues of drug misuse within Halton.
The Board noted that the strategy had been developed during significant period of change and the vision, objectives and priorities for the Drug Strategy.
The following comments arose from the discussion:-
· Concern was raised that 138 children between 15 and 20 years of age had attended hospital with drug related issues and clarity was sought on whether work was taking place in schools to address this problem. In response, it was reported that part of the strategy would be to increase resources in schools. Work was also taking place with Cheshire Police and other agencies to deliver a programme for teachers to help address this issue;
· Concern was raised that for years numerous strategies and significant funding had been found to address the drug problem but they had not been successful. It was suggested that a different approach was required as drugs were readily available and the Police were doing all that they could to stop illegal drugs, but were not in a position to solve the issue. In addition, concern was raised at the issue of legal highs, which were being sold in shops and online but were not suitable for human consumption. In response, it was reported that the legalisation of drugs was not necessarily the answer as individuals would always find a way of undermining it. However, it was reported that this issue was being considered nationally and consideration was being given to a legal crack house, where individuals could obtain clean needles etc, which would significantly reduce disease. In respect of legal highs, it was reported that Trading Standards nationally were looking at the issue;
· It was noted that the impact of the strategy would be monitored regularly and the budget annually reviewed to ensure that long term drug abuse was reduced;
· It was suggested that it would be beneficial to help people with drug abuse rather than them processing them through the criminal justice system. In response, it was reported that work was taking place on how people were sanctioned. In Runcorn Custody Suite, a pilot was being undertaken on deferring appropriate people into a drug programme rather than processing them through the criminal justice system;
· It was noted that the Mental Health Scrutiny Topic Group had visited Ashley House as part of their review and had met people who had experienced drug abuse and were willing to help other people; and
· It was noted that consideration was being given to opening a ‘Dry House’ in the future so individuals could socialise without having an alcoholic drink. It was also noted that a visit had been undertaken to the Dry House in Liverpool to see how it operated etc.
RESOLVED: That the report and comments raised be noted.