Headlines: January 16th, 1998

Keith Hellawell, the UK Anti Drug Co-ordinator, has called for views and ideas from experts, organisations and the general public on how to respond to the drugs issue. “My role is to develop a new drugs strategy for the Millennium, I want to make sure that people have had a chance to contribute to that strategy as it takes shape.” He has already received over a thousand letters since he was appointed in October 1997 – many from ordinary people who have had first hand experience of the problems caused by drugs in their own families or in their communities. His E-mail address is CDCU@gtnet.go.uk.The main goal of the anti drugs strategy will be to get improved results and better value for money. It is generally accepted that the resources currently applied and the efforts of all concerned do not give value for money. The strategies of the many agencies, covering the fields of education, enforcement, treatment and rehabilitation, have grown up largely independently over time. They have their own missions and performance indicators and success is mainly measured in quantitative terms.

Keith Hellawell’s task is to find out what works best and particularly to get evidence about value for money. The next step will be to devise a strategy that takes account of the evidence. Hard choices will then have to be made about how to move resources from agencies that give less value for money to those that give more. Switching of funding in the short term will be extremely difficult and it is certain that some transitional funds will be required.