Social Policy

20121012 This essay will outline this statement made by Sir Richard Branson at the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee Meeting which was published on 3 December 2012. On whether there should be a royal commission put in place for drug policy in the UK and that the Home Office should take the control of organised crime and the problems of drug and alcohol addiction be left in the control of the Department Of Health .

Setting up two different control bodies to control two different major problems in the UK society at the present and the arguments for and against this statement. Mr Branson along with other dignitaries on the global commission on drug policy such as Ruth Dreifuss former President of Switzerland and former head of the Federal Council of Home Affairs, were asked to speak at the Home Affairs Committee on Drugs Breaking the Cycle and which was chaired by The Right Honourable Keith Vaz Chair of the Committee.

The last time the home affairs committee looked at drugs policy as a whole was in 2002, though more new drugs and legal highs have been in fluxed illegally, and legally, into this country so the home affairs committee thought it was time to set up a think tank to look at these problems and how they could tackle them and how other countries have decreased crime and drug use by decriminalising certain drugs. The Governments Alcohol Strategy: 2012 national strategy confirms minimum pricing for England and Wales set out polices which were 20121012 * A minimum unit pricing for alcohol * Banning the sale of multi buy discounts.

* Zero tolerance of drunken behaviour in A&E departments * A late night levy to get pubs and clubs helping to pay for policing and * Improved powers to stop selling alcohol to an individual who is totally inebriated In the foreword to this strategy David Cameron stated that “when beer is cheaper than water, it’s just too easy for people to get drunk on cheap alcohol at home before they even set food in a pub (Morris, 2012). The UK drug policy states that between 2011 and 2012 an estimated 8. 9% used an illegal drug of some sort, for young people aged between 16 and 24 this figure was 19.

3% although they stated that that this was the lowest figure since they started collecting figures in 1996, drug misuse continues to have a negative effect on health and wellbeing and quality of life of too many people . It also drain public resources for example crimes related to drug use cost the UK ? 13. 3 Billion every year (MP, 2013) So with the polices to be scrutinised by government ministers and to look at improvements and funding for these polices and how to implement these changes the government took advice from such bodies as Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

A. C. M. D, The National Treatment Agency, N. T. A (soon to be public health England) D. A. N. O. S The Drugs and Alcohol National Occupational Standards to look at ways of changing the polices and how this would be better for the country as whole with reduced crime and better health for everyone.

So decrimalisation of certain drugs and substances would this have a decrease in crime health costs, healthcare policing and 20121012 lead to a better and healthier society in Britain or would this have a damaging effect on the country open to all to come and purchase drugs as it previously did in Holland who have recently changed their drug policy as stated later on in this essay With Mr Branson stating this question that drug misuse, and drug treatment, and drug policy, should be put on the burden of the Department of health the question should be asked could the National Health Service in the UK cope with workload of substance misuse in this country.

At the moment the health and wellbeing of the client using the service for treatment of alcohol related injuries or drug overdoses and deaths related to drug consumption , poly drug use and alcoholism related diseases is already putting a strain on the national health service. The figures show that in 2012 alcohol related admissions rose by 11% on the previous year with primary diagnosis conditions up by 2. 1% (Morris, Alcohol Policy UK, 2012). The figures on Drug use state that although there has been a decrease in Heroin and Morphine deaths from 41% in 2010 to 32% in 2011 there has been a steady increase in death tolls of the new legal highs which are being sold in shops and markets freely in the UK (London, 2013).

Another report states that the rising levels of drink and drug abuse are turning Britain into one of the sickest countries in the western world the problems which are fuelling an epidemic of Liver Disease and other illnesses Drug abuse disorders have increased 577% since 1990 and An increase on cirrhosis of the liver which is largely caused by alcohol abuse has rose by 65% according to Aiden Radnedge (Radnedge, 2013) of the Metro newspaper in London. 20121012.

Sir Richard stated by looking at other countries policy on drugs and alcohol maybe Britain can learn how decriminalisation of certain drugs and substances can reduce crime and healthcare cost when the distribution of substances is put in the hand of the State health authorities and not the governing home office. With the possession of 25 grams of marijuana leaves or five grams of Hashish, two grams of cocaine, one gram of heroin, these are the drug quantities that one can legally purchase and possess in Portugal, carrying them through the streets of Lisbon without fear of repercussion and prosecution.

(Hollerson, 2013). Other countries such as Holland have decriminalised the sale of hashish and marijuana where customers over the age of 18 are able to purchase small quantities for personal use, but new laws put in place this year will stop an influx of tourists who come to Holland to purchase and smoke pot legally, with the Dutch government stating you have to prove you are a Dutch resident before you can purchase said hashish or marijuana (Holligan, 2013). In Sweden drug policy is regarded as restrictive , one of the aims of the policy is that drugs are not tolerated in society.

Drug Use is regarded as deviant behaviour and such behaviour must be stopped some examples of this restrictive attitude include * The overall goal is that of a drug-free society * Harm reduction programs are only available in a limited fashion * Treatment is based on obtaining complete abstinence and it is possible to force people into treatment * Consumption of narcotics is an offence, and urine and blood tests are used to detect those suspected of drug use 20121012.

* Drug legislation is strictly enforced * Discussions regarding the medical value of cannabis is non-existent * Swedish legislation strictly adheres and even surpasses. The requirements set out in the three United Nations drug conventions. (Hallam, 2010) So the difference in attitudes in these three European countries have certain standards set out in the way they have their drug laws and policy’s set out in the way they run their society’s.

In Portugal it has reduced crime rates and putting more finance into policing the big cartels importing vast amounts of illegal drugs into their country, in Holland laws have been tightened stopping the tourist just using the country for recreational cannabis smoking, whilst in Sweden they have a very hard-line on drugs and fully adhere to all laws set out by the united nations.

So should we as country minimise our drug laws or increase them, minimise them and decriminalisation of certain drugs might have a good effect on our failing economy whilst on the other side of the argument decriminalising certain drugs is inviting trouble on a booze binging culture which Britain has at the moment coupling this with drug use will have an impact on our health services, who are already stretched to the limit.

Has Sir Richard Branson a vested interest in putting the drug policy with the department of health rather than the home office, with his purchase of the majority shareholding of Assura Medical a private healthcare company in this country. Or is his love of a joint or two for recreational purposes have a personal interest in him changing the drug criminality laws for possession, 20121012.

Another celebrity who was asked to speak at the Home Affairs committee meeting in 2012 was Russell Brand the comedian who stated that the government should treat addicts as sick people and not bad people. Brand stated in his TV programme from addiction to recovery stating that abstinence based recovery is the only way forward to treat drug addicts and putting the reliance of addicts on a methadone prescription for the greedy disease of opiate dependence is not the way to treat the addiction (Brand, 2012) .

Criticism of Brands programme was put forward by the Independent reporter Susie Mclean who stated “that so because it worked for him Abstinence- based approaches to drug dependency have a wide appeal to policy makers ,parents, governments, medical professionals and some former and current drug users, dependence on opiates is a chronic , relapsing condition according The World Health Organisation and relapse rates are particularly high in programmes that compel people to stop using drugs which suggests that it is only when individuals reach a point in their lives where they are ready and able to stop using illegal drugs that abstinence – based programmes can succeed” (Mclean, 2012).

If the UK was to follow Sir Richard Branson’s advice on putting the burden of the drug policy on the shoulders of the Department of Health rather than being on the workload of the Home office dealing with the criminality issues, again as to quote Russell Brand” Treat addicts as people with an illness rather than labelling them as criminals with addictions. ” Treat addiction to a substance an illness rather than a scrounge on the finances of the treasury, and give addicts the chance and hope of recovery from their addictions.

20121012 There is no quick fix to solve the issue of substance misuse and by looking at the success and failures of other country’s drug policy’s, and ironing out the flaws and faults in their policy’s ,maybe by bringing change to the way the country treats those with a substance misuse addiction and seeing what has worked in other countries and what has not would not be a good idea to put in place if the coalition government wishes to change the way the current set up is failing and implement new policy’s and guidelines on health and criminal funding and laws within this country for possession and change them to the softer approach or put a hard-line on drugs as has been done in Sweden.

If the drug policy was the responsibility of the department of health with the new changes being put in place within this country of the disbanding of the National Treatment Agency and being replaced by Public health England, would this not put a greater pressure on a department who is struggling to cope with the cuts and funding of an already stretched to the limit organisation who is currently pushed to the limit with the status quo of health and wellbeing of British citizens without putting more workload on these tired and caring individuals who are currently running the Department Of Health at the present . 20121012.

Bibliography Brand, R. (2012, August 3). From Addiction To Recovery. (R. Brand, Interviewer) Hallam, C. (2010).

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM SWEDENS DRUG POLICY EXPERIENCE. LONDON: BECKLEY FOUNDATION DRUG POLICY PROGRAMME. Hollerson, W. (2013, March 27). 'This Is Working': Portugal, 12 Years after Decriminalizing Drugs. Retrieved May 11, 2013, from SPIEGAL ONLINE: http://www. spiegel. de/international/europe/evaluating-drug-decriminalization-in-portugal-12-years-later-a-891060. html Holligan, A. (2013, January 1). BBC Neews World. Retrieved May 11, 2013, from Dutch coffee shops 'must see ID': http://www. bbc. co. uk/news/world-20880914 London, S. G. (2013, Febuary 28). Annual Uk Drug Deaths. Retrieved May 11, 2013, from Annual Uk Drug Deaths: http://www. sgul. ac.

uk/media/latest-news/annual-uk-drug-deaths-fall-seven-per-cent-with-heroin-related-deaths-continuing-to-decline Mclean, S. (2012, August 16). The Independant Blogs. Retrieved May 11, 2013, from Russell Brand shouldn’t speak for everyone on drugs policies: http://blogs. independent. co. uk/2012/08/16/russell-brand-shouldnt-speak-for-everyone-on-drugs-policies/ Morris, J. (2012, MARCH 23). Alcohol Policy UK. Retrieved MAY 11, 2013, from NEWS AND ANALYSIS FOR THE ALCOHOL HARM REDUCTION FIELD: http://www. alcoholpolicy. net/2012/03/national-alcohol-strategy-2012-goverment alcohol policy 20121012 Morris, J. (2012, June 05). Alcohol Policy UK. Retrieved May 11, 2013, from News and Analysis for the alcohol harm reduction field.