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Drugs

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 9 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what research her Department has (a) undertaken and (b) commissioned into the effect of the Government's 10-year drug strategy on reducing availability at street level of illicit drugs; and if she will make a statement. (153885)

The following projects (a) undertaken by Home Office researchers looked at the effectiveness of attempts to reduce the availability of drugs at street level:

An evaluation of the Street Level Up Approach Pilot Project in four sites in England, assessing the use of intelligence to disrupt drug trafficking. The final report was not published but circulated on a restricted basis.

An evaluation of three initiatives established to tackle “middle market” drug trafficking: Operation Middle Market, Merseyside Middle Market Drugs Unit and Tarian Regional Task Force. A report summarising learning from the research was published for a police audience. Copies of the report are only available on request from the relevant Head of the Research Unit.

The following research projects (b) commissioned by the Home Office looked at the effectiveness of attempts to reduce the availability of drugs at street level:

A study of retail drug markets and the local action taken against them in eight deprived neighbourhoods. A report is available on the Home Office RDS website: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs2/hors240.pdf

A project examining the implementation of new powers to close “crack houses” in four case study areas. Findings were published on the Home Office RDS website: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs05/dpr42.pdf

An estimate of the size of the UK illicit drug market for six categories of illicit drugs for the reference year 2003-04. A report is available on the Home Office RDS website: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs06/rdsolr1606.pdf.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what research studies the Government have (a) undertaken, (b) commissioned and (c) reviewed which compare (i) the levels of illicit drug use and (ii) the levels of drug-related harm associated with international classification/regulatory systems; and if she will make a statement; (153886)

(2) what indicators her Department uses to measure the impact of changing the status of a drug within the ABC classification system on (a) levels of illicit drug use and (b) levels of drug-related harm; and if she will make a statement.

The indicators used to measure illicit drug use and drug-related harm are not predicated on the Acceptable Behaviour Contract (ABC) classification system.

Indicators on prevalence of illicit drug use among the general adult population in England and Wales are set out in reports based on the annual British Crime Survey. Indicators relating to children of school age are published in reports of the annual survey of smoking, drinking and drug use among secondary schoolchildren in England. The Drug Harm Index (DHI) provides an overall measure of the level of drug-related harm and how it changes over time. The operation of the DHI is set out in Measuring the harm from illegal drugs using the Drug Harm Index (Home Office Online Report 24/05).

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what research studies the Government have (a) undertaken, (b) commissioned and (c) reviewed into the impact of changing the status of a drug within the ABC classification system on (i) availability and price at street level of illicit drugs and (ii) the levels of drug-related harm; and if she will make a statement. (153887)

Since 1997 only two drugs have changed in status within the Acceptable Behaviour Contract (ABC) classification system—cannabis in 2004 and methamphetamine in January 2007. The Government undertake several surveys to monitor evidence of trends in availability and price, but these are not predicted on the ABC classification system.

The Arrestee Survey and the annual survey of drug use, smoking and drinking among young people in England provide data on the perceived availability of drugs. Data on price at street level has in the past been collected by the National Criminal Intelligence Service, using information generated during the course of police operations. The Drug Harm Index (DHI) provides an overall measure of the level of drug-related harm and how it changes over time. The operation of the DHI is set out in Measuring the harm from illegal drugs using the Drug Harm Index (Home Office Online Report 24/05).