One of the most significant casualties of the fragmentation of drug treatment that followed the Lansley reforms of 2013 was the relationship between the police and drug treatment commissioning. For most of the previous decade, local police commanders had been intimately involved in commissioning services, functioning as powerful advocates for investment in treatment and ensuring that the point of arrest became a valuable first step on the road to recovery whenever possible. Competing priorities, and a retreat into bureaucratic silos that accompanied austerity for many agencies, combined to decouple the police from this role, which has had significant negative consequences for all partners.
Collective Voice is therefore very pleased to see the Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands, the second largest police service in the country, making this agenda a priority. Even more significantly, the strategic issues he has identified as top of his list of recommendations – improving access to treatment from the Criminal Justice System and working with partners to increase resources by pooling budgets – are issues Collective Voice sees as fundamental to halting the steady degradation of drug treatment’s capacity to help individuals turn their lives around at the same time as protecting communities from drug-related harm.
We look forward to working with colleagues in the West Midlands and across the country to capitalise on the opportunities this presents.