Headlines: June 29th, 2004

A scheme that tries to break the link between drug use and crime is to be expanded to target offenders who misuse alcohol. Under the Criminal Justice Interventions Programme people are tested for drugs when they are arrested so they can be placed in treatment programmes.The Home Secretary, David Blunkett, has announced that the expansion of the scheme to tackle alcohol related offences will be tried out in two areas where offenders will get specialist help. The extension is part of the government’s strategy to reduce the harm caused by alcohol and the strategy will also see a six week police blitz on underage drinking and alcohol-related disorder starting from next week.

The government’s Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy is designed to tackle the social and economic problems caused by alcohol misuse and includes steps to tackle alcohol-related disorder, to improve treatment and support for people with alcohol problems, clamping down on irresponsible promotions by the drinks industry; and ensuring consumers get better information about the dangers of alcohol misuse.

Mr. Blunkett said effort needed to be focused more effectively on key individuals committing the most offences, given the changing pattern of crime in society. “The key to reducing crime still further is to focus more intensively on the individuals whose addiction to drugs and drink leads them to commit offences. We are no longer prepared to tolerate our public spaces becoming no-go areas for law-abiding citizens,” he added.