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Drug-related Crime

Volume 487: debated on Monday 9 February 2009

8. What recent assessment she has made of the effectiveness of measures to combat drug-related crime. (254644)

A key indicator of the effectiveness of measures to combat drug-related crime is the drug harm index. Since 2002, this has fallen by 28 per cent., representing a substantial fall in drug-related crime. Recorded acquisitive crime, often linked to drug-related crime, has fallen by a similar amount.

With a 9 per cent. increase in drug offences between July and September 2008, compared with the previous year, is it not clear that the Government have completely failed to get a grip on this problem? Does the Minister accept that the drug treatment and testing orders, which result in huge reoffending rates, have been a complete shambles? Will he say what is going to be done to offer more drug addicts abstinence-based treatment orders, which are the only way forward?

I do not accept what the hon. Gentleman says. I point him to the drug intervention programme, which has had considerable success—we are more than meeting our target of involving 1,000 people a week. The evidence is that drug intervention programmes work to cut reoffending, and they have put in place the long-term improvements needed, instead of the revolving-door syndrome that existed when tackling drugs in the past.

Further to the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Philip Davies), the drug treatment and testing order, which the Minister seems to think is going well, has been such a failure that the Government abolished it some time ago.

Oh yes they did. It has all gone because of breaches.

The link between drug-taking and crime is as strong as ever, and it is getting worse and worse. When will the Government recognise that and put more money into residential rehab, which is the best way to cure many of these youngsters, who are victims as well as criminals?

Again, I note a request for more money from those on the Opposition Benches. The hon. Gentleman may have heard me talk about drug intervention programmes, and I argued that they were one way of putting in place a successful method of cutting reoffending rates. He is right to say that the link between crime and drugs is complex, as is the link between drugs and the economy, but through the drug intervention programme and work with persistent, prolific offenders, we are confident that we have put in place the long-term measures that will make a difference.

Does the Minister believe that it is now time for the Government to consider restricting the terrible date rape drug gamma-butyrolactone? It leads to terrible sexual violence against women, and we need to control its use.

I pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman for his work on raising the profile of this matter. I can tell him that we are examining it within the Home Office and hope to bring forward proposals shortly.