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Paper 5 -  25 January 2002 Meeting

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

25 January 2002

POLICE REFORM: INTEGRATION OF CRIME AND DISORDER

REDUCTION PARTNERSHIPS AND DRUG ACTION TEAMS

Report by Alan Higgins, Chairman of Portsmouth Drug Action Team (in consultation with Nick Gibbs, Chair of the Hampshire Drug Action Team, John Beer, Chair of the Southampton Drug Action Team, Nick Gurney Head of the Portsmouth Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships and Sheila Clark, Chief Executive of the Portsmouth Primary Care Trust)

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RECOMMENDATIONS

(1) That the Association does not support the integration of Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships and Drug Action Teams because of the difficulties in integrating the structures and the need to maintain clear focus on the issues.

(2) That the Association supports the need for the Drug Action Teams to be placed on a similar statutory footing to the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships and to work in the context of the Local Strategic Partnerships and build on the role of locality Drug Reference Groups.

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GOVERNMENT PROPOSALS

1. The Government have launched a consultation process on the integration of Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships and Drug Action Teams as part of the Blue Print for the Reform of the Police. They consider that the introduction of the Communities Against the Drugs initiative has highlighted the extent to which many already work together to achieve common aims. To simplify working relationship at a local level and in recognition of the overlap of interests the Home Office White Paper on police reform proposes combining the roles of Drug Action Teams and Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships to create new partnerships.

They highlight the key benefits from this proposal to include:

* Reducing the burdens on agencies in terms of representation
* Simplifying Home Office lines of accountability for community safety issues
* Giving the delivery of the National Drug Strategy a statutory mechanism
* Ensuring more effective targeting of resources
* Improving overall delivery of key strategies

2. They state that these proposals should not diminish the health aspect of the drug strategy, nor should they be taken as implying subordination of treatment and prevention under the crime agenda. New partnerships must be seen as part of an overarching community safety strategy.

COMMENTS ON PROPOSALS

3. In Hampshire and the Isle of Wight there are 4 Drug Action Teams covering the Isle of Wight, Portsmouth, Southampton and Hampshire and 14 Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships; the Drug Action Teams are based on the unitary and county structure, the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships are based on the district structure. Although the position in the unitaries may be relatively straightforward in terms of integration, in the County it is extremely complex. The consultation paper indicates that the membership of the Drug Action Team and the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships are broadly similar. This is only partially true as there is a significant representation on the Drug Action Team from Health, Primary Care Trusts (both commissioning and provider services), Private Sector Providers, The Prisons, Customs and Excise and Social Services which goes beyond the core membership of the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships. The relationship with Health is particularly complex with 8 PCT’s working with Hampshire Drug Action Team. This is likely to lead to an extremely unwieldy structure that will lack focus either on drugs or crime and disorder.

4. There is a growing concern among Drug Action Teams that the transfer of the drugs strategy to the Home Office from the Cabinet Office is lead into a domination of the criminal justice agenda in drug action to the detriment of the treatment and support requirements. This is being manifested in a number of ways. Before the drug strategy was transferred to the Home Office the provisional budget for new treatment monies for 2002/3 indicated an 80% uplift from the initial allocation for 2001/2. This was new money to improve treatment services. Under the Home Office auspices this has been cut and although budget allocations for 2002/3 have not been confirmed it is suggested that the increase is now likely to be between 10% - 35%.

5. The focus on criminal justice initiative is particularly strong in respect of Arrest Referral and Drug Testing and Treatment Orders. There has been considerable pressure to fast track clients from the criminal justice system into treatment. This has resulted in an increase in the drop out rate as clients who are being forced into treatment reluctantly are less likely to continue their treatment and to be committed to a resolution of their problems than those who enter treatment voluntarily. This has exacerbated a feeling amongst treatment staff that fast tracking clients from the criminal justice system is not appropriate particularly when it results in a limitation on services available to those who enter treatment voluntarily. This is not the situation across the whole area as in some areas for example the Isle of Wight it has been possible to get both criminal justice and voluntary patients into treatment on the same time track as a result of the new monies

6. The Drug Action Team also has a significant commissioning role which is linked into the work of the National Treatment Agency which comes under the Department of Health. In Hampshire and the Isle of Wight this involves commissioning over £10million of treatment services in 2002/3. Joint commissioning arrangements require significant infrastructure to ensure that there is commitment from all partners and this adds to the complexity of the Drug Action Team arrangements. For the County Drug Action Team devolving this role to locality level would make it impossible to achieve strategic provision of services.

7. The community against drugs initiative has identified the links between drugs and crime and has encouraged partnership working between the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships and the Drug Action Team. However it would be wrong to think that all drug work undertaken by the Drug Action Team is linked to crime and there would appear to be a very real danger that the treatment and prevention agenda could be diminished as a result of these proposals. It would seem to be much more appropriate to see the Drug Action Teams and the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships working as separate initiatives under the auspices of the Local Strategic Partnerships and working jointly on initiatives where it is appropriate. Links between locality based Drug Reference groups and CRDP’s should also be strengthened.

8. The Drug Action Teams are currently voluntarily partnerships and the proposal to place them on a statutory basis would enhance their credibility with partner agencies and their ability to joint commission services.

9. This paper has been consulted with all Hampshire and Isle of Wight Drug Action Team Chairs who with the exception of Charles Waddicor, Chair of the Isle of Wight Drug Action Team support the recommendation. Charles feels that there is merit in pursuing integration and this probably reflects the less complex representation issues on the Island.

ALAN HIGGINS
Chairman, Portsmouth Drug Action Team

Date: 14 January 2002
Annex: 0
Contact: Alan Higgins (tel: 023 9283 4213)

Last update: 16/01/2002
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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