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Substance Misuse: Harm Reduction Model

Volume 737: debated on Monday 18 September 2023

10. What recent discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on the potential merits of introducing a substance misuse harm reduction model to tackle acquisitive crime. (906423)

We have not had any specific discussions on that, but we have a 10-year drug strategy, which includes spending an extra £582 million over three years on 55,000 extra treatment places. We want to treat people who are addicted, particularly to opioids, to get them off drugs and fully recovered.

A large number of people are being exploited into criminal activity, whether through drug gangs or acquisitive crime. They need help and support from the state. Will the Minister look at how to put a harm reduction model in place for those individuals, rather than criminalising them, so that they can get the support they need to change the direction of their lives?

There is a twin-track approach. There is a comprehensive effort to ensure more addicted people get treatment, being diverted to it from police custody, from the court system and when they leave prison. As I say, there is an extra £582 million over three years. We are in the second of those three years at the moment. But enforcement, particularly against drug gangs and organised criminal gangs, is important at the border and in the case of county lines. It is a twin-track approach: enforcement, together with treatment.