For immediate release
07th August 2017
UK Government Official Evaluation: Our Drug Strategy is a failure…(but Home Office carry on regardless)
Lurking unnoticed down the web-page from the official new drug strategy document released last month, the UK Government also released its official evaluation of its 2010 - 2016 drug strategy. And it is obvious why they tried to keep this document under the radar.
Drug law reform experts have said for years that the war on drugs is a counterproductive, colossal waste of money - now the government’s own evaluation shows they were right. Most striking is the section on enforcement - where the malfunctioning nature of prohibition becomes most apparent:
“Activity solely to remove drugs from the market, for example, drug seizures, has little impact on availability.”
“Illicit drug markets are resilient and can quickly adapt to even significant drug and asset seizures. Even though enforcement may cause wholesale prices to vary, street‑level prices are generally maintained through variations in purity.”
“The resilience of the drugs market is again demonstrated as multiple [web]sites replace any, for example Silk Road 1.0, that are taken down.”
“The UK illegal drugs market is extremely attractive to organised criminals as the prices charged at street level are some of the highest in Europe and are sufficient to repay the costs of smuggling the drugs into the UK.”
“There is, in general, a lack of robust evidence as to whether capture and punishment serves as a deterrent for drug use” “There is very limited evidence of the impact of stop and search on restricting supply.”
“However, there are potential unintended consequences of enforcement activity such as violence related to drug markets and the negative impact of involvement with the criminal justice system.” “...including unemployment and harm to families – parental imprisonment is a risk factor for child offending, mental health problems, drug abuse and unemployment amongst others.”
“Due to the absence of sufficient data on spend or the direct impact of activities it has not been possible to produce value for money estimates for enforcement or enforcement‑related activities.”
Martin Powell,Transform Drug Policy Foundation said; “The key focus of the new UK drug strategy is to reduce crime and restrict availability.of drugs. Yet this formal review says the past strategy did nothing of the sort, and in crucial respects, made things worse. It shows we are squandering £1.6 billion a year enforcing drug laws with little effect on street prices or availability. All while fueling drug market violence, and harming the young and vulnerable through criminalising them.
And for what? Drug use hasn’t fallen for 8 years. More importantly, drug deaths have hit record levels for four years in a row. This document proves the ongoing commitment to drug war enforcement is not about evidence - it is serving other political and ideological interests. It’s truly scandalous that the poor and vulnerable are dying and suffering as a result. The government are responsible, and must be called to account.”
Martin Powell, Head of Campaigns, 07875 679 301
Steve Rolles, Senior Policy Analyst, 07980 213 943
An evaluation of the Government’s Drug Strategy 2010 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/fil...
Transform Drug Policy Foundation is a UK and Mexico based think tank campaigning for the legal regulation of drugs www.tdpf.org.uk
See Transform blog for more on the strategy evaluation http://www.tdpf.org.uk/blog/uk-government-official-evaluation-our-drug-s...