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Drugs are a problem, that security industry people among others have to clear up as best they can; is there a political solution coming? asks Mark Rowe.
Drugs do more than ravage addicts and maybe kill them, not before a cost to health services; addicts bring anguish to their families. For every discarded syringe that gets reported, someone has to pick it up, such as a cleaner or security officer. For many security officers, drug addicts are an unavoidable bane of life, like rain or wind on an outdoor patrol in winter. Besides organised shop thieves, who rob from stores for a living, the other main source of stock loss is from addicts, who steal goods perhaps amounting to six-figures in value in a year, to feed their habit. As a major trigger for violence in store is the confronting of shoplifters, drugs are a cause of violence against retail staff.
While drugs are illegal and some addicts may do crimes to pay for their addiction, drugs also fuel some football hooligans (and, quite separately, prisoners in jail). In fact some boast of it.
The Scottish Government has this month published statistics on the number of suspected drug deaths during the first half of 2021; that shows a small decrease (1pc) on the same period last year. The Holyrood government’s Drugs Policy Minister Angela Constance has said that the figure of 722 remains ‘appalling’. She said: “We are taking a vast range of actions to tackle this public health emergency, and we recognise the hard work and challenges ahead.
“More regular reporting of data on drug death trends in Scotland will ensure everyone involved in our national mission remains focussed on the work we must do to get more people into the treatment that is best suited for them as quickly as possible. We know that to do this we must create a more integrated, person-centred approach to treatment.”
The UK Government meanwhile says it will bring out its drugs strategy later in the year.
Drug-related crime causes widespread misery and costs the public purse more than £9bn a year. Yet focus and funding are lacking across the criminal justice system to tackle drug use and supply. The system is not working well. So said the Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell after his inspectorate published a report on drug treatment and recovery work with people on probation.
More on the drugs problem in the November 2021 print edition of Professional Security magazine. Photo by Mark Rowe; on street drug deal, East Ham, London, winter afternoon, 2018.