A group of MPs have outlined in a new report that the UK government should decriminalise the possession of all drugs in an effort to reduce the growing number of drug-related deaths in the country.
The ‘Drug Policy’ report from the health and social care committee said the level of drug-related deaths in the UK had become a public health “emergency”.
It found the UK’s position on drugs was “clearly failing” and called for a “radical new approach” in policy.
The report urges the government to urgently consult on making the possession of drugs for personal use a civil rather than criminal matter – an approach they witnessed in Portugal, where drug death rates have fallen dramatically after the introduction of decriminalisation.
Such a move would “save money” from the criminal justice system and allow for more investment in prevention and treatment/
“Evidence heard throughout this inquiry leads the committee to conclude that UK drugs policy is clearly failing,” the report said.
“The United Kingdom has some of the highest drug death rates in Europe, particularly in Scotland.
“This report shows how the rate of drug-related deaths has risen to the scale of a public health emergency.”
Committee chairman, and Lib Dem MP, Dr Sarah Wollaston said: “Every drug death should be regarded as preventable, and yet across the UK the number of drugs-related deaths continues to rise to the scale of a public health emergency.
“Recommendations put forward in this report propose changes to drugs policy that are desperately needed to prevent thousands of deaths.”
“The Government should learn lessons from the international experience, including places like Portugal and Frankfurt. It should consult on the decriminalisation of drug possession for personal use from a criminal offence to a civil matter. Decriminalisation alone would not be sufficient. There needs to be a radical upgrade in treatment and holistic care for those who are dependent on drugs and this should begin without delay.”