Agenda item - Update on Progress with the Independent Drugs Commission report

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Agenda item

Update on Progress with the Independent Drugs Commission report

Report of the Director of Public Health (copy attached).




8.1     The Board considered a report of the Director of Public Health which updated members on the progress made with the Independent Drugs Commission’s recommendations from 2013 and on the feedback from the Commission’s review in April 2014.  The report was presented by the Commissioner, Community Safety.  


8.2     Members were informed that the Independent Drugs Commission was established in 2012 by the Safe in the City Partnership.  Before its establishment numbers of drug related deaths in the city had been high.   The Independent Drugs Commission organised its work and recommendations around four key challenges which were set out in Appendix 1 to the report.  An action plan summarising local progress made in response to the recommendations was attached as Appendix 2.


8.3     Paragraph 3.2 set out areas that the Drugs Commission felt had gone well and areas of continuing concern. Overall the Drugs Commission was complementary about the progress made.   Appendix 3 of the report summarised the work of the group considering the feasibility of establishing a Drugs Consumption Room in Brighton and Hove.  It was concluded that at the present time the overall need of the local community, not just injecting drug users, was not considered sufficient by local organisations to agree to support establishing a drugs consumption room.  


          Questions and Discussion


8.4     The Chief Executive informed the Board that she was Chair of the Safe in the City Partnership.  She stressed that problems related to drugs and alcohol consumption were key issues for both public health and community safety. 


8.5     Geraldine Hoban considered the report to be very encouraging.  Ms Hoban referred to a key point in Appendix 2 (page 81).  It was reported that the Public Health Schools Programme had been launched for students and staff.  This was to be extended to work with local colleges once the school programme had been established.  Ms Hoban stressed that colleges were even more vulnerable and asked why this work had been left as a second priority.   Tom Scanlon explained that the Public Health Schools Programme had commenced this year.  The programme involved wide ranging health interventions.  The work would be extended to colleges when more data had been received.  


8.6     Councillor Jarrett thanked everyone involved in the process.  Councillor Jarrett remarked that drugs related deaths had decreased for a number of reasons.   He asked if numbers were down in the year the work was carried out.  The Commissioner, Community Safety reported that the numbers had not yet been confirmed by St Georges Hospital.  She was not necessarily expecting to see the level of decrease to be sustained and the figures for 2013 would not be received until 2015.  The situation was volatile and numbers of drug related deaths could go up or down.  For example, over the Christmas period there were 17 drug related deaths related to the purity of heroin.   


8.7     Councillor Morgan referred to Appendix 3 of the report which provided an update on the Drugs Consumption Room Feasibility Working Group.  Section 3 of the paper quoted Home Office and Police comments which stated that drug consumption rooms were against the law.  Councillor Morgan asked for clarification about the legal position. 


8.8     The Deputy Head of Law explained that drug consumption rooms could be managed in different ways.  It was possible to run them in a way which would make them lawful.  The statutory comments that drug consumption rooms were unlawful was not helpful.  It was possible to have a local accord with Sussex Police to discuss the feasibility of setting up a local drugs consumption room. 


8.9     Graham Bartlett concurred.  A drug consumption room itself was not unlawful.  However, Mr Bartlett did share the concerns of the police. 


8.10    Councillor Norman remarked that he would prefer not to see the establishment of drug consumption rooms. 


8.11    RESOLVED – (1) That the progress made with the recommendations and the response from the Independent Drugs Commission be noted.


(2)  That it is agreed that the Safe in the City Partnership and Substance Misuse Programme Board monitor future progress with the recommendations. 


Supporting documents:


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