United-Kingdom Country Drug Report 2017

National drug strategy and coordination

National drug strategy

Launched in 2010, the United Kingdom’s (UK) Drug Strategy 2010: Reducing Demand, Restricting Supply, Building Recovery addresses illicit drugs and has two overarching aims: (i) to reduce illicit and other harmful drug use; and (ii) to increase the number of people recovering from their dependence. These aims are addressed though three thematic areas: (i) reducing demand; (ii) restricting supply; and (iii) building recovery in communities. The UK Government is responsible for the strategy and its delivery in the devolved administrations only in matters where it has reserved power. Within the strategy, policies concerning health, education, housing and social care are confined to England, while those for policing and the criminal justice system cover both England and Wales.

A number of powers are devolved to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and each of these countries has its own strategy and action plans. Both the current Welsh strategy, Working Together to Reduce Harm:

Focus of national drug strategy documents: illicit drugs or broader

NBYear of data 2015. Strategies with broader focus may include, for example, licit drugs and other addictions. While the United Kingdom has an illicit drug strategy, both Wales and Northern Ireland have broad strategy documents which include alcohol.

The Substance Misuse Strategy for Wales 2008-18, and Scotland’s strategy, The Road to Recovery: A New Approach to Tackling Scotland’s Drug Problem, were adopted in 2008. Northern Ireland’s policy, New Strategic Direction for Alcohol and Drugs Phase 2: 2011-16, was launched in 2011. Strategies in Northern Ireland and Wales address both illicit drugs and alcohol.

All European countries evaluate their drug policies and strategies through ongoing indicator monitoring and specific research projects. Both the UK’s and all the devolved administrations’ drug strategies are subject to annual implementation progress reviews. None of the current strategies has been formally evaluated, but a framework for evaluating the UK’s strategy focused on costs and benefits was published in 2013.

The UK drug strategy’s overarching aims are (i) to reduce illicit and other harmful drug use; and (ii) to increase the number of people recovering from their dependence

National coordination mechanisms

In the UK, the Home Office has lead responsibility for the coordination of the delivery of the UK drug strategy on behalf of the government and chairs the Inter-Ministerial Group on Drugs. Scotland’s Road to Recovery strategy is implemented locally by 30 Alcohol and Drug Partnerships and the Partnership for Action on Drugs in Scotland. In Wales, the Substance Misuse National Partnership Board coordinates and monitors the implementation of the Welsh substance misuse strategy by the government and other stakeholders and is assisted by seven Area Planning Boards. Northern Ireland’s substance misuse strategy is coordinated by the New Strategic Direction Steering Group and the Department of Health.


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