Government’s flagship drugs programme expands to Liverpool

Three month surrender encourages public to hand over weapons ahead of change in law

The Government is investing a further £31m to expand a programme aimed at cutting drug-related crime and reducing misuse into eight new areas across the country, including Liverpool City Region.

Project ADDER, which combines targeted and tougher policing with enhanced treatment and recovery services, is already up and running in five areas across England and Wales.

Now, as part of the Government’s response to Dame Carol Black’s landmark review on drugs, new Project ADDER Accelerator programmes will be set up in the Liverpool City Region.

Liverpool City Region will receive a combined total of up to £11.76m over the next two years, which will be shared between Merseyside Police and three local authorities – Liverpool, Knowsley, and Wirral.

The funding will be used to increase police enforcement activity in areas of the city with high levels of drug use and drug-related crime, as well as targeting the middle market drugs threat. It will also support treatment and employment support services for those with addictions.

Kit Malthouse, Sponsor Minister for Combating Drug Misuse, said: 

“Drugs devastate lives, destroy families, drive crime and lead to vulnerable people being exploited – we are determined to address the root causes of this poison. 

“Project ADDER sites are already helping people in five areas of the country turn their lives around and stop ruthless criminal gangs from cashing in on addiction. 

“Now we are throwing a ring of steel around eight more local authorities – including in Liverpool– to fight this scourge and ensure people get the treatment they need to recover from drug misuse.”  

Lisa Mahon. Detective Superintendent, Merseyside Police, said:

“Drugs cause a significant impact on our communities and emergency services.

“It is therefore vital that we do everything we can to take them off our streets, arresting those involved in the drugs distribution chain and provide help to drug users and those at risk of exploitation.”

A spokesperson from Liverpool City Council’s Public Health team, said:

“We’re really pleased that Liverpool has been given an opportunity to be part of the ADDER Accelerator programme.

“As a city we have never shied away from the damaging effects of addiction, and this funding will enable us to provide a number of services and interventions that will support our most vulnerable residents, and help reduce drug-related crime and the rise in drug-related deaths.

“At the heart of our plan is the ability for people to move towards longer-term abstinence, through better access and engagement to treatment and rehabilitation services, including those people who are referred from the criminal justice system.”

“Funding will allow us to invest in a whole-system approach in tackling substance misuse, and provide real hope and opportunities for the future through intensive support and diversion services.”

Superintendent Phil Mullally, Knowsley Local Policing Team, said:

“We understand the power of partnership and it is only by working holistically with our partners that we can tackle issues such as drug crime.

“Through collaboration and integration with local community services, rehabilitation providers and other local partners we can reduce drug-related crime and the cycle of misuse and reoffending.”

Councillor Shelley Powell, Knowsley’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods, said:

“Knowsley’s Community Safety Partnership is committed to building better and safer communities and tackling, head on, the issues that impact and affect the health and wellbeing of our residents.

“This latest funding opportunity allows us to further support this priority area and continue our invaluable work with partners to reduce crime, provide effective treatment  and protect communities from the scourge of the illegal drug trade.”

Councillor Yvonne Nolan, Chair of Wirral Council’s Adult Social Care and Health committee, said:

As an accelerator site, Wirral will build on the borough’s already extensive drug-related support options, testing a ‘whole-system’ approach to reduce drug related deaths and offending.

“The scheme will be led by our local public health team and work with our local specialist drug treatment and recovery service, Merseyside Police and a wide range of partners to further develop the already longstanding support networks in place to tackle drug-related issues.”

Julie Webster, Wirral’s Director of Public Health, said:

“Nationally, Project ADDER aims to reduce drug use, drug related deaths and offending. Wirral, like the other project areas, has been selected as an accelerator site based on considerations such as levels of drug-related deaths and drug-related offending.

“This funding will enable us to further develop local, wraparound support options for those living with the impacts of drug-use in Wirral.”

The Accelerator areas were chosen based on multiple factors, including rate of drug deaths and drug-related crime. As of 2019, the rate of drug-related deaths in all three local authorities in Liverpool City Region were higher than the national average for England of 4.7 per 100,000. In Liverpool, the rate was 11 per 100,000 – this was the sixth highest rate of drug-related deaths nationally.

The other Project ADDER Accelerator sites will be rolled out in Bristol, Newcastle, Wakefield, and two London boroughs – Hackney and Tower Hamlets.

Project ADDER – which stands for Addiction, Diversion, Disruption, Enforcement, and Recovery – brings together partners including police, local councils, and health services to take a holistic approach to tackling drug misuse.

The expansion of Project ADDER is part of the Government’s end-to-end approach to drive down demand for illegal drugs, reduce drug-related crime, and support people through treatment and recovery. Dame Carol Black’s review found that a joined-up approach was needed to tackle drugs misuse across society, and the Government is determined to drive forward activity in this space by:

  • Setting up a new Joint Combating Drugs Unit to coordinate the Government’s response and appointing Dame Carol Black as an independent advisor to drive forward progress;
  • Expanding the police’s use of drug testing on arrest so those involved in crime, including misusing drugs, are identified and dealt with;
  • Hosting a summit with employers, universities schools and police to tackle the issue across society and ensure that those who misuse drugs, regardless of the scenario, face consequences.

The response to Dame Carol Black’s review follows a £148m package of new investment, announced in January, aimed at protecting people across the UK from the scourge of illegal drugs. The package included:

  • £40m of new money to tackle county lines, bringing the total invested to £65m since November 2019. So far, this investment has seen more than 1,000 drug lines closed, over 5,800 arrests, over £2.9m in cash seized, and more than 1,500 vulnerable people safeguarded;
  • £28m to set up pilots of Project ADDER in five areas with some of the highest rates of drug misuse – Blackpool, Hastings, Middlesbrough, Norwich, and Swansea Bay;
  • An extra £80m to invest in drug treatment services across England to provide support to offenders with drug addictions.

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