Westminster Legal Policy Forum

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Next steps for tackling drug and alcohol-fuelled crime in England and Wales - early identification and intervention, Project ADDER, problem-solving courts, policing and sentencing disparities, and community services and rehabilitation

February 2023

Price: £150 PLUS VAT

This conference is brought together policymakers and stakeholders to discuss key developments and next steps for tackling drug and alcohol-fuelled crime in England and Wales.

Delegates assessed the rollout of measures outlined in the Government’s Drugs Plan, including problem-solving courts for drug offenders, drug-recovery prison wings and substance-free living units, and the joint Home Office and DHSC pathfinder programme for combatting drugs misuse, Project ADDER (Addiction, Diversion, Disruption, Enforcement and Recovery).

It was also a timely opportunity to discuss the direction of policy following the Swift, Certain, Tough: New Consequences for Drug Possession white paper, along with reports of plans from police leaders for drug users to be offered treatment instead of being prosecuted, and an open letter signed by public health groups, parliamentarians and other stakeholders, calling on the Home Office to rethink its proposals.

Areas for discussion included:

  • policy: update from the MOJ on their strategy to improve offender health - assessing the government support strategy for addicted offenders 
  • substance misuse: understanding social context and determinants of misuse in the UK - economic factors - the cost-of-living crisis - considering the increase in opioid consumption in England
  • prevention: best practice for early identification and intervention - reviewing initiatives such as Project ADDER - models for multi-agency strategies and collaboration
  • legislation and sentencing:
    • implementation of new problem-solving courts - role of judges in sentencing and supervision - tackling disparities experienced by ethnic minorities and other specific social groups
    • responding to recreational drug use in the context of the Home Office White Paper
    • exploring the options and implications for reforming drug laws - alternatives to incarceration 
  • prison: tackling supply and use of illicit substances - treatment and recovery services - evaluating new drug-free wings and expansion of incentivised substance-free living (ISFL) units
  • probation and rehabilitation:
    • latest from HM Chief Inspector of Probation on enhancing the service’s support for offenders returning to the community
    • role of community sentences in turning individuals away from crime and supporting their recovery from addiction
    • priorities for preventing reoffending and encouraging recovery - assisting ex-offenders with education, employment and therapy
    • assessing the impact of new health and justice partnership coordinators

We are pleased to have been able to include keynote sessions with Justin Russell, HM Chief Inspector of Probation; Anna Lacey, Deputy Director, Female Offenders and Health Policy, Ministry of Justice; and Dr Laia Maynou, Lecturer Serra Hunter, Department of Econometrics, Statistics and Applied Economics, Universitat de Barcelona; and Visiting Fellow, LSE Health, London School of Economics and Political Science.

The chair was Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede, Shadow Spokesperson, Ministry of Justice; and Shadow Spokesperson, Home Office.

The conference was an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Lords; as well as by key policy officials who attended from DLUHC; HMPPS; Joint Combatting Drugs Unit; MoJ; the NAO; and the Senedd Cymru.

This on-demand pack includes

  • A full video recording of the conference as it took place, with all presentations, Q&A sessions, and remarks from chairs
  • An automated transcript of the conference
  • Copies of the slides used to accompany speaker presentations (subject to permission
  • Access to on-the-day materialfs, including speaker biographies, attendee lists and the agenda