What’s the Government doing about drugs?

The Government Drug Strategy 2010

The Home Office approach to tackling drug use and its associated problems is detailed in the Drug Strategy 2010 – Reducing Demand, Restricting Supply, Building Recovery: Supporting people to live a drug free life. As indicated by the title, the strategy targeted three key themes for government drug policy:

1) Reducing Demand

  • Providing good quality drug education and advice to help people ‘actively resist substance misuse’. This is to be delivered primarily by drug education in schools and through the FRANK drug information service.
  • Supporting vulnerable young people and families to reduce the risks of them becoming involved in drugs and alcohol. This is to be delivered by local authorities, funded by a new Early Intervention Grant and the Public Health Grant, and overseen by Directors of Public Health and Directors of Children’s Services.
  • Drug use by people involved in the criminal justice system is to be tackled through continuing to support Drug Rehabilitation Requirements, which allow courts to require people to seek drug treatment, and the Drug Interventions Programme, which aims to involve offenders in drug treatment. The strategy also states that ‘drug recovery wings’ will be piloted in prisons, integrating drug recovery services into prison wings.

2) Restricting Supply

  • A National Crime Agency to lead on organised crime and tackle drug trafficking and supply, along with the UK Border Agency, who will focus on stopping drug imports from overseas. Tackling import and supply of heroin and cocaine are to remain key priorities, although these agencies will be made aware of ‘the changing drugs landscape’ and new drugs.
  • Police and Crime Commissioners, democratically elected in local areas, to drive policing priorities. Published Crime Maps allow people to see how much and what type of crime is committed in their area.
  • Integrated Offender Management is intended to ensure different services work together to identify and manage priority offenders, including police, probation, youth services, and increasingly the voluntary and community sector and private providers.
  • More focus will be put on tackling internet sales of drugs, including ‘legal highs’, with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency using all the powers available to them under medicines legislation.
  • An increased effort to use money laundering prosecutions and asset-seizing powers to reduce the profitability of the drugs trade.
  • New attempts will be made to stop the trade in cutting agents, which are used to ‘bulk out’ drugs and increase profits.

3) Building Recovery in Communities

This section of the strategy details how drug treatment is to work in the new ‘locally-led’ system. Public Health England is responsible for the commissioning and oversight of drug and alcohol treatment.

Strategy updates

Published in 2015, The third annual review of the 2010 drug strategy, ‘A Balanced Approach’, updates progress on the 3 strands of the strategy since December 2013. This review highlights the actions taken and the priorities for the year ahead on reducing demand, restricting supply and building recovery. Case studies are also provided.


The Scottish Government’s national drug strategy, The Road to Recovery, was published in 2008 and continues to receive cross-party support from the Scottish Parliament.

Central to the strategy is the concept of recovery. Recovery is a process through which a person is enabled to move-on from their problem drug use towards a drug-free life and become an active and contributing member of society.


‘Working Together to Reduce Harm’ is Wales’s 10 year plan to tackle the problems caused by drugs and alcohol in Wales. Published in 2008, it sets out a national programme for tackling and reducing the harms associated with substance misuse.

It is structured around four action areas:

  • preventing harm
  • supporting substance misusers
  • supporting families
  • tackling availability and protecting individuals and communities.

If you have any queries regarding substance misuse in Wales, please contact substance.misuse@wales.gsi.gov.uk

Northern Ireland

The overall aim of the Northern Ireland drug strategy New Strategic Direction for Alcohol and Drugs – Phase 2 is ‘to reduce the level of alcohol and drug related harm in Northern Ireland’

Updated November 2016