The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) has issued a call for evidence around drug use in ethnic minority groups.
The ACMD are seeking to understand the nature of drug treatment within ethnic minority communities and the barriers to treatment that certain groups or individuals might face.
Our submission makes a number of suggestions about how we can improve the drug treatment system to ensure that all people, regardless of race, religion, or cultural background, can access the services which they might need to be able to change the way that they use drugs.
In compiling this evidence, we engaged with a number of organisations led by-and-for people from ethnic minority backgrounds, as well as with ‘mainstream’ services, in seeking to understand what our sector needs in order to serve all people who come to it.
Summary of key findings and recommendations
- We recommend that in taking forward this area of work the ACMD assesses the level of response received from specialist organisations and considers further engagement with organisations led by-and-for people from ethnic minority groups, including enhanced engagement beyond the present written consultation exercise.
- The Drugs strategy recognition that “legal consequences for [drug] use have not been sufficiently applied across all levels of society” will be insufficiently addressed by the commitment to “improve our methods for identifying ‘recreational’ drug users and roll-out a system of tougher penalties aimed at this.” In fact, without addressing the over-policing of ethnic minority communities, nor exploring and addressing the causes for unequal outcomes at court, this ‘system of tougher penalties’ may in fact have further negative impact.
- We recommend that the government review how drug treatment and recovery services for ethnic minority people are commissioned with specific consideration of:
- ringfenced grant funding for the provision of specialist services for ethnic minority groups
- guidance for commissioners, co-produced with organisations led by and for ethnic minority groups, that supports the engagement of specialist organisations throughout the whole commissioning cycle and places a responsibility for ‘market stewardship’ upon commissioners to ensure that partnership arrangements with specialist organisations in the bidding process and delivery of contracts are fair and equitable.
Our full submission can be accessed here.
The impact of the cost of living crisis further emphasises the need for long term and sustainable funding for drug and alcohol treatment and recovery services.
The Sentencing Bill is shortly due to enter Committee stage in Parliament. It includes two clauses which would bring positive changes to sentencing by, if well implemented, reducing pressure on the prison system and ensuring that people whose contact with the criminal justice system is related to the way they use drugs and alcohol are able to get the treatment and support they need.
Collective Voice Forums will facilitate experts across the field to come together to share information and expertise, forge strong and lasting connections and foster a culture of innovation.