Skip to main content

Drug Use

Volume 448: debated on Thursday 29 June 2006

4. What progress is being made on meeting the Government’s target for reducing drug use among young people. (80882)

The overall picture of drug misuse among young people is one of stability with some downward trends in the use of specific drugs. The Government have set out a comprehensive national programme to deliver local universal, targeted and specialist services for young people to make a further impact on reducing drug misuse. Local areas have been very effective in focusing children’s services’ attention on substance misuse issues.

I am grateful for that answer but I hope that my hon. Friend is aware that the amount of money for the young people substance misuse partnership grant in Stoke-on-Trent is around half of that of Nottingham, which is a comparable city with similar problems. Given that overall funding for drugs services in Stoke-on-Trent is around £11 a head compared with £23 a head in Nottingham, what extra resources are the Department prepared to direct towards tackling that curse on our young people in Stoke-on-Trent?

My hon. Friend makes his point about his constituency in his customary manner. I expect him to champion his constituency and its causes and he is doing that today. I reassure him that there is no postcode lottery for drug treatment, but a formula that was set up with the assistance of academics at the university of York. We specifically examined local demographics and the prevalence of misuse, and we ensure that the overall pooled budget—the young people substance misuse grant—is spread around the country by focusing on those elements through the formula. However, there are 30 high focus areas and another 18 will be announced shortly.

What assessment has the Under-Secretary made of the quality of some of the printed material that is used in drugs education? Does he share my concern that some of it contains far too much value-free information and not enough of a robust warning to young people about the dangers of drug taking to their health, education and career prospects?

The hon. Lady makes a fair point but it is important to talk to young people not necessarily in the language that she and I speak but in a language that they understand. The information and advice service FRANK has been especially useful—there have been 1.3 million calls to the FRANK helpline, 11.3 million hits on the website and more than 82,000 e-mails. From 1998 to now, the British crime survey figures show that, among 16 to 24-year-olds, the use of cannabis has reduced by 16 per cent., that of amphetamines is down by 66 per cent., that of LSD has decreased by 83 per cent. and that of glues has reduced by 66 per cent. There is much more to do but information and advice services such as FRANK help to solve the problem.