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Rising drugs-related admissions shows ‘war on drugs’ is not working – Kirsty Williams

2014 Hydref 31 10:35 AM

Statistics released this week showing the rising number of treatment agency admissions for drug poisoning shows the current 'war on drugs' is not working, the Welsh Lib Dems have said.

In 2013-14, there was a 10.1% increase in the number of working-age adults (25-49 years old) being admitted to treatment agencies for drug-related conditions - this figure now stands at 2,886.

These statistics came as a study published by the Home Office admits that the severity of criminal sanctions against drug users makes no difference to rates of drug use.

The Home Office's 'Drugs: International Comparators' study looked at different approaches to drugs policy in different countries. It found that treating possession of drugs as a health rather than criminal matter reduces drug-related deaths, HIV infection rates and does not lead to a long-term increase in use.

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Drugs laws

Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:

"For too long, successive Westminster governments have refused to take notice of clear evidence in front of their eyes: the so-called 'war on drugs' is not working.

"Despite criminal sanctions on drug possession being increased time and again, drug use has not fallen. Only a fool would keep repeating the same mistakes and expect a different result.

"The Liberal Democrats want a radical change to UK drug policy, basing it on evidence instead of dogma or the desire to sound tough. Drug addiction should be treated as a health issue, not a crime issue. Instead of locking up addicts, we should be helping them to find treatment.

"The 'war on drugs' has failed. It's clear that if you are anti-drugs, you should be pro-reform."

Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat Home Office Minister, reacted to the report by saying:

"This comprehensive report shows that other ways of tackling drug addiction and supply can save lives and cut crime.

"It's time for a radical change in British drugs policy.

"We should spend more time and effort cracking down on the Mr Bigs and criminal gangs who traffic drugs than users and addicts who should be helped to recover, not put behind bars."

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