Agenda item - Independent Drugs Commission Report

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Agenda item

Independent Drugs Commission Report

Report of Director of Public Health (copy attached).


10.1    The Board considered a report of the Director of Public Health which informed members that in 2012 the Safe in the City Partnership established an Independent Drugs Commission to review the current state of drugs problems in the city and the approach being taken by local services to address these issues.  The Drugs Commission addressed four key areas and published its final report with recommendations in April 2013.  The final report had been received by the Safe in the City Partnership and a plan for the Substance Misuse Programme Board to address the recommendations had been developed. 


10.2    The current report asked the Board to note the Independent Commission’s report and the actions to date of Safe in the City Partnership in response.  The Deputy Director of Public Health presented the report. 


10.3    The Chair asked if the drop in deaths was attributable to the use of Naloxone.  The Deputy Director of Public Health explained that some information was received when people attended A&E.  It was possible that the use of Naloxone had prevented people from dying.  However, there were a number of other factors.  More people were now receiving effective treatment which will also contribute to reducing drug deaths.


10.4    Robert Brown asked how the Commission considered the impact of drug use on individuals with characteristics protected by the Equality Act 2010.  He further asked whether Sussex Partnership Foundation NHS Trust provided information on recommendation 6. Mr Brown asked if specialist youth advice services would be protected from cuts, as they seem vital to this work going forward.


10.5    The Deputy Director of Public Health replied that a great deal of work was going on with dual diagnosis.  The question on recommendation 6 was an action for the Sussex Partnership Foundation NHS Trust.  The Deputy Director of Public Health could not comment on whether youth advice services would be protected from any cuts.


10.6    Councillor Norman remarked that the Independent Drugs Commission Report was clearly intended as something useful and was well intended.  However, the authors did not do themselves any favours with the inclusion of a recommendation relating to a consumption room.  Councillor Norman hoped that this one recommendation did not lead to long term damage to work on this issue in Brighton and Hove.  The recommendation was controversial and Councillor Norman was concerned about the use of the term drug consumption room. There needed to be positive action and not talk of a drug consumption room.


10.7    The Deputy Director of Public Health explained that the remit of the Independent Drug Commission included considering evidence of what is being done elsewhere.  Drug consumption rooms were established in many other countries and the terminology was used across Europe.  It had been mentioned in a report from Scotland in 2008.  Although it may be feasible for a city to have a Drug Consumption Room it is not always considered desirable. 


10.8    Councillor Bowden stressed that a fine balance needed to be struck with regards to this issue.  He reported that there was terrible deprivation in his ward and that there was drug dealing in a particular tower block.  Councillor Bowden spoke of a child who had sustained a needle prick from a discarded syringe.  One positive aspect of having a safe environment for drug users was that health workers would be available to help.  Councillor Bowden had doubts about the use of methadone which he thought was as addictive as heroin.   


10.9    Councillor Norman stated that he was not against the idea of a treatment centre.  He felt that there should be safe places where people could have supervision. 


10.10  The Chair informed members that she was concerned at the number of women who were not able to look after their children.  As a result, the children were taken into care.  The Chair stressed that work with work with women with children should be prioritised.


10.11  RESOLVED – (1) That the Independent Drugs Commission report (Appendix 1), and the Safe in the City Partnership’s responses to the Drugs Commission report recommendations (as set out at Part 3 of the report) be noted.


 (2)      That officers be instructed to bring back a further report on the progress of the recommendations of the Independent Drugs Commission to a future HWB meeting.


Supporting documents:


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