New unit to tackle drug misuse following major independent review

Priti Patel warns social media companies to protect  children’s safety

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel.

The new unit aims to end illegal drug-related illness and deaths.

A new drugs unit will be set up to help end illegal drug-related illness and deaths, the government announced on July 8.

The Joint Combating Drugs Unit will bring together multiple government departments – including the Department of Health and Social Care, Home Office, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Department for Work and Pensions, Department for Education and Ministry of Justice – to help tackle drugs misuse across society.

There are now an estimated 300,000 opiate or crack users in England, and around one million people using cocaine per year. Drug misuse poisoning deaths are at a record high, having increased by nearly 80 per cent since 2012.

It comes as Professor Dame Carol Black published the second part of her Independent Review of Drugs, which sets out more than 30 recommendations to government to help overcome the harm drugs have caused to individuals, families and communities across the country. The report calls for significant investment in the drug treatment and recovery system so that more people can get the support they need.

Drugs devastate lives, ruin families, damage communities, and see ruthless criminal gangs cashing in on the most vulnerable in society,” said Home Secretary Priti Patel.

“We will not let this continue and are cracking down on criminals, preventing drug misuse in our communities, and supporting people through treatment and recovery.

I welcome this landmark review by Dame Carol and the Government remains absolutely committed to addressing this issue. We are taking action to deliver lasting change through the new Joint Combating Drugs Unit – which will bring together all parts of government to tackle the scourge of illegal drugs – as well as investing £148 million this year to cut drugs crime and improve treatment and recovery services,” she added.

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Deirdre Tynan

Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.