Drugs and Alcohol Needs Assessment

National policy

An independent drugs review was commissioned in 2019 by then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid and delivered by Dame Carol Black in 2020 and 2021.

Phase one of Dame Carol Black’s independent review of drugs was published in 2020. It included an analysis of the problems and recommended policy solutions. It examined the illicit drugs market, worth almost £10 billion a year, with three million users and an increasingly violent and exploitative supply chain and the scale of increasing harm. It also highlighted that the quality and capacity of drug treatment services have reduced in recent years, and that entrenched drug use and premature deaths occur disproportionately more in deprived areas.

Phase two was published in July 2021. The aim of the review was to ensure that vulnerable people with substance misuse problems get the support they need. The report made policy recommendations to the government around funding, how services are commissioned and how local bodies are held accountable to ensure they are effective in preventing, treating, and supporting recovery from drug problems.

The report concluded that the public provision currently in place for prevention, treatment and recovery was in urgent need of “whole system reform”.

There were 32 recommendations, including:

  • additional funding for drug treatment;
  • workforce development; and
  • supporting prisoners and prison leavers.

In response, a new cross-Government 10 year national drugs strategy ‘From harm to hope’ was published in April 2022. The strategy is led by the Home Office and includes additional investment, to be overseen by Office for Health Improvement and Disparities. The strategy has 3 strategic priorities:

  • break drug supply chains;
  • deliver a world class treatment and recovery system; and
  • achieve a shift in demand for recreational drugs.

Guidance for local delivery partners to support the strategy was published in June 2022. This set out a requirement for local areas to have a multi-agency Combating Drugs Partnership (CDP), accountable for delivering against the new National Combating Drugs Outcomes Framework. The new CDP for Buckinghamshire convened its first meeting in October 2022.

The most recent alcohol strategy was published in 2012 under the Coalition Government. It stated an intention for minimum unit pricing in England, but this has not been enacted. An Alcohol Charter was produced in 2018 by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Harm, which included calls for reduced availability of cheap alcohol, and greater support for both dependent and non-dependent drinkers.