£148 million boost to tackle drug addiction and organised crime

January 20, 2021

The government is to invest £148m in tackling organised drug gangs and helping people break the cycle of addiction.

Drug services in England will get an extra £80 million to increase the number of treatment places for people released from prison and criminals handed community sentences.

Another £40m will be used to target criminal gangs and so-called county lines operations.

Announcing the additional funding, Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: "Addiction and crime are inextricably linked and to truly break the cycle we must make sure people can access the help they need to get their lives back on track for good.

"This is the largest increase to drug treatment funding in 15 years and underlines our absolute commitment to reduce drug-related deaths, offending and use."

The extra money to target criminals follows an initial £25m investment since November 2019 which has seen more than 3,400 arrests, more than 550 county lines closed and more than 770 vulnerable people protected, while drugs with a street value of £9 million, as well as £1.5 million in cash, have been seized.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "The government's work to tackle county lines drugs gangs has already resulted in thousands more people being arrested and hundreds more vulnerable people being safeguarded, but we must do more to tackle the underlying drivers behind serious violence.

"That is why today's announcement will provide the largest investment in drugs treatment and support in fifteen years, while also giving more resources to law enforcement so they can continue dismantling organised criminal gangs and tackling the supply of drugs."

The final tranche of the total £148m package will be invested into a pilot scheme, Project ADDER (Addiction, Diversion, Disruption, Enforcement and Recovery), which combines targeted policing with treatment and recovery services.

It will run for three financial years in five areas with high rates of drug use, including Blackpool, Hastings, Middlesbrough, Norwich and Swansea Bay.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "We must also help people to get off drugs in the first place and that is why we are launching Project Adder, a new, targeted approach which will ramp up local enforcement, while at the same time diverting more people into recovery, backed up by the largest investment in treatment in 15 years."

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