Since the volatile substance abusers (VSA) framework was published in July 2005, three working groups involving stakeholders have been established to help Government Departments implement and develop further the priority actions set out in the framework. There are three groups—butane, education and communication, and workforce planning.
We expect to discuss progress to date and priorities for further action with our VSA stakeholders' group before the end of this year. Good progress has been made in including VSA issues within the FRANK campaign, including its helpline. Progress has been made in identifying research needs, with a study on the views of young people themselves having been published in March 2006. Work is under way to identify options further to limit the availability of butane refills for abuse by young people, including better enforcement of the current legal restrictions on sale to young people under 18.
The Department supports and values the work undertaken by St. George's university of London who produce the annual report on deaths associated with volatile substance abuse. The Department is currently in the process of making arrangements for the renewal of a contract.
The idea of a project for developing the Network VSA was part of the framework published in 2005. Budget changes have prevented any early decision being taken on the letting of the contract. The issue will be considered alongside other proposals at the next volatile substance abuse stakeholders' meeting, which will be held shortly.