As Shadow Home Secretary Oliver Letwin argued that a "quantum leap" was needed in drug rehabilitation if crime was to be defeated. He suggested that those arrested and found to be drug addicts which be forced to undergo such treatment or face imprisonment – which Letwin argued was a tougher rather than softer policy than what is currently in place. This approach was reflected in the Conservatives 2005 General Election manifesto, which said:
"We will break the link between drugs and crime by massively expanding treatment programmes, including 25,000 residential rehab places (compared with fewer than 2,500 places today), and by giving all young users of hard drugs a straight choice – effective treatment or appearing in court."
I’ve been reading Chris Patten’s new book What Next? which includes a chapter on drugs and which says:
"We should, of course, be spending more on treatment of drug dependence or abuse – for instance, counselling, methadone treatment and other opiate-maintenance therapies for heroin addicts."
I hope that that will Letwin’s proposals will be maintained for the next manifesto rather than just being ditched for the sake of having something different. But rather than wait for a Conservative Government should Conservative Councils be doing more to fund drug rehabilitation? It would cost money. But then so does drug addiction – quite apart from any other considerations. Nuisance neighbours to evict from estates. Crime and vandalism. Heroin addicts mothers whose children end up in Pupil Referral Units or taken into care. All these are a considerable drain on Council budgets. Most Councils make a hefty number of grants to voluntary groups. Perhaps some of this money should be redirected to those who in return undertake to provide drug rehabilitation programme to local addicts.
Happy Christmas to all readers.