St Mungo’s welcomes part two of Dame Carol Black’s independent review of drugs

The second part of the independent review of drugs led by Dame Carol Black has been published with leading homelessness charity St Mungo’s hailing it as “significant and comprehensive”. 

Published last week (Thursday 8 July), the report entitled ‘Review of Drugs Part Two: Prevention, Treatment and Recovery’ outlines recommendations to both national and local Government and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges to help them reduce demand for illegal drugs by examining drug prevention, treatment and recovery, whilst also recognising the link between mental health, drug problems and homelessness.

The second part followed the initial review, published in February 2020.

Dame Black – along with her advisory panel which included a member from St Mungo’s – has made 32 recommendations including advising the Government to:

  • Establish a central Drugs Unit which would hold all government departments to account
  • Invest an additional £552 million by the end of year five of the programme to the treatment system for drug use through the Department of Health and Social Care, and an additional £15 million in employment support through the Department for Work and Pensions
  • Ring-fence the money provided to local authorities so that it can only be spent on treatment services, employment services and housing support for people dependent on drugs
  • Require local authorities, as a condition of funding, to work with health, housing and employment support and criminal justice partners to develop a joint needs assessment
  • Ensure Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and Department for Health and Social Care work together to gain better understanding of the types and levels of housing-related need among people with a substance misuse problem

St Mungo’s Chief Executive Steve Douglas CBE said: “This is a significant piece of work which has drawn on evidence from many different sectors, and we thank Dame Black and her team for this comprehensive report and detailed recommendations which include several issues we highlighted in our submission, including the need for integrated and collaborative working across services, aided by a move towards joint commissioning and responsibility shared across Government departments.

“And it is good to see the Government has already acted on one of the recommendations and announced it will introduce a cross cutting drugs unit. I hope this is not the only recommendation it implements.”

Mr Douglas continued: “Our own research shows that health and homelessness are inextricably linked and we know that sadly, far too many people who are experiencing homelessness die every year due to drug misuse.

“As our Knocked Back research evidences, this can be prevented where appropriate support services are available, such as ones that treat homelessness, mental health and drug misuse at the same time, rather than as individual issues. And we have seen how effective this approach can be over the last 15 months through the Everyone In initiative.”

The report publication comes weeks before the interim findings of the Kerslake Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping will be published.

Chaired by Lord Kerslake the independent Commission will look at what lessons can be learned from the response to the pandemic.

Mr Douglas, who is advising the Commission, said: “This report will certainly feed into the work of the Commission, which has the remit to understand what made the response to rough sleeping so effective during the pandemic.

“It is reassuring to see that the Housing Committee and the Commission are aligned in the belief that if we do take the learning and are bold, the Government’s commitment to ending rough sleeping can be achieved.”