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Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

Drugs, Alcohol & Justice: A charter for change

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Cross-Party Parliamentary Group issues a ten point charter to advance a more evidence-based approach to drug and alcohol issues.

Cross-Party group

The Drugs, Alcohol & Justice Cross-Party Parliamentary Group provides an interface for professional providers of drug and alcohol treatment with parliamentarians of all parties who share an interest in these issues. The Group holds regular meetings in Parliament and is professionally coordinated by Union Services parliamentary consultancy. It is chaired by Lord Ramsbotham and Mary Glindon MP.

The group seeks to:

focus attention on addiction issues and advocate evidence-based policies, enabling treatment services to save and transform more lives.

It originally published its 10 point Charter for Change in 2014, but has updated it every year. The current version, agreed earlier this month, calls on the government to:

  1. Identify and appoint a single Government Minister to be responsible for drug and alcohol policy, accountable to Parliament.
  2. Publish an evidence-based
    a) Drug Strategy aimed at reducing harm, ill health and drug related deaths; and
    b) Alcohol Strategy aimed at reducing alcohol related harm, ill health, deaths and alcohol related crime and disorder.
  3. Follow the guidance provided by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).
  4. Ensure that co-ordinated harm reduction strategies to reduce alcohol and drug related deaths and illnesses are prioritised by relevant structures across all four UK nations.
  5. Mandate the provision of drugs and alcohol services by Local Authorities.
  6. Ensure Local Authorities provide adequate resources for effective treatment of those with drugs and/or alcohol disorders
  7. Ensure everyone in recovery from drug and alcohol problems has opportunities to rebuild their lives, with access to safe and secure housing, employment and meaningful activity; and support for physical and mental health.
  8. Create apprenticeship-based qualifications for the drug and alcohol workforce, to build capacity and assure accreditation across the sector.
  9. Create a national commissioning ombudsman to provide oversight and address failures in commissioning practice.
  10. Make every prison a place of safety, reform and health improvement by increasing prison and probation officer staffing levels to provide access for prisoners to drug and alcohol treatment, provision of testing and treatment for Hepatitis C and continued care upon release.

Additionally the Cross-Party Group calls for progress on drug policy, arguing that the government should:

Reschedule cannabis for medical use; and establish a Royal Commission to examine the case for legal regulation of drugs in order to take the debate out of the party political arena, allowing the failure of the ‘war on drugs’ approach to be acknowledged and consideration given to decriminalising possession for personal use and removing supply from criminal gangs.

The charter document also includes two useful, shareable infographics about the importance of the drug strategy:

and the urgent need for an alcohol strategy:


It is clear that a cross-party, de-politicised approach is the only way effective way forward for drug policy since issues around legalisation/regulation in particular are destined to remain political hot potatoes. It may be that a hung parliament provides more opportunity for this sort  of cross-party initiative to flourish — if we can all stop talking about Brexit for long enough.


Blog posts in the drug and alcohol category are kindly sponsored by Breaking Free Group which has developed a powerful and adaptable digital health platform which targets the underlying psychological and lifestyle factors that drive addictive behaviours. Breaking Free has no editorial influence on the contents of this site.

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