Spotlight on Substance Misuse
Emerging good practice across PCC areas
Through the Second Generation Project, Revolving Doors Agency works with Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) across the country to help them to develop better service responses for people in the revolving door of personal crisis and crime and to young adults in contact with the criminal justice services.
This spotlight, the seventh in the series, focuses on substance misuse. Government strategies, such as Transforming Rehabilitation, the 2017 Drug Strategy and the 2012 Alcohol Strategy highlight the association between substance misuse, health risks and offending. Substance use among people sentenced to prison is substantially higher than among the wider population, and a high proportion of new entrants to community substance misuse treatment arrive via a criminal justice system route.
There is strong evidence for the links between deprivation, social inequalities and substance misuse related harms. We also know that substance misuse problems can often be complicated by social issues such as unemployment, indebtedness, homelessness or social isolation, which bring people into repeated contact with the criminal justice system. Addressing these health and social care needs can reduce criminal behaviours and improve community safety.
The complexity of substance misuse and its harms require effective local partnerships to improve life chances and reduce crime. PCCs have a vital role to play in improving outcomes for people with substance misuse needs and preventing people from getting caught in the revolving door of personal crisis and crime. PCCs can offer the vital strategic leadership to address substance misuse needs and reduce health inequalities in their area and use their convening powers to bring health agencies around the table to reduce reoffending by addressing health related drivers of crime.
Our recent review of PCC police and crime plans from across the country showed that 9 out of 10 PCCs identify substance misuse as a problem in their area, yet only 3 out of 10 have set it as a priority. This spotlight brings together examples of good practice with a view to raising awareness about the link between substance misuse, associated health inequalities and crime and encourage PCCs to develop programmes, which take a public health approach to tackle the root causes of crime.