The Government has announced it will invest £780 million in drug treatment in an effort to break the “cycle of crime” fuelled by addiction.
The money will go towards the development of a “world-leading” system to support the recovery of those dependent on drugs, prioritising areas with the greatest need, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.
The investment is part of the Government’s 10-year drugs strategy, which has also earmarked £300 million to clamp down on “county lines” gangs.
The DHSC said that all local authorities in England will receive new money for drug treatment and recovery over the next three years.
The 50 areas in greatest need will get the cash first, to fast-track better access to treatment for the most vulnerable, it added.
Meanwhile, the Government has committed to “increase and improve treatment services” to “significantly” boost recovery rates.
It also pledged to improve drug treatment for offenders to help cut crime.
And it said it would increase housing support and access to treatment for those at risk of sleeping rough.
In addition, the Government is planning to roll out individual employment support across all local authorities in England by 2025 to help those in recovery secure work.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “This is a huge moment which will not only save lives but help level up the country.
“We’re investing a record amount into treatment services with money to break the cycle of drug use and to support communities by cutting the drug use which drives crime.
“Treatment services are just one part of the comprehensive strategy which includes helping people back to work, into permanent housing, and cracking down on supply.”
Dame Carol Black, whose independent review into drugs helped shape the strategy, will monitor and advise on its progress, the DHSC said. The Government will also produce an annual update.
Dame Carol said: “Enormous human tragedy surrounds the lives of people dependent on drugs. This investment will transform substance misuse services, providing people with high quality treatment and support for recovery.
“Therefore, I am delighted that the Government is making this very significant investment in drug treatment and recovery services, alongside the funding allocated to tackle drug supply. The investment to improve housing support and employment opportunities is just as critical because people need hope, purpose and practical steps to help them achieve a better future.
“This strategy comes with high expectations and I look forward to advising the central unit and relevant government departments to ensure there is a step change in treatment, recovery and prevention.”
Earlier on Monday, Dame Carol said greater change would be achieved investing in recovery than tackling criminal activity.
She was asked on BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme if it would make a “bigger difference” to focus money on treatment or crime.
She responded: “I’m going to say treatment and recovery because as long as there’s demand, you will have supply.
“Drug dealers are very, very good at just moving their operation, of doing different things, they’re good businessmen. So I think if you really want to get to grips with drugs and crime, you’ve got to be able to offer people high quality treatment and recovery.
“We know from research that that stops criminal activity. We know that if it’s high quality treatment, people stay in it and do better. And we have at the moment a broken service.”
She added: “I think… I also want there to be, obviously, activity by the Home Office. Of course I want that. But if you just do that, we’ve been doing that for years. And we’ve been doing rather inadequate treatment and recovery now for many years. And in some places, extremely poor, then at least they deserve 50-50.”