On the 20th of January, the Home Office, the Department for Health and Social Care and the Prime Minister’s Office announced £148 million of new investment into funding substance misuse services and reducing reoffending. This funding is said to take a ‘system-wide approach’ and will relate to health, accommodation, and criminal justice.
This blog will break down exactly what this £148 million is going towards, and how it relates to the voluntary sector working in the criminal justice system. For information from the government website, click here.
The £148 million of funding will go towards the following causes:
New funding for Project ADDER: £28 million
£28 million is to be invested into piloting a new approach to addressing substance misuse: Project ADDER. ADDER stands for Addiction, Diversion, Disruption, Enforcement, and Recovery. It’s going to be a multi-agency approach bringing together the police, local councils, and health services. This is planned to run over three financial years, and will be piloted in five areas that have been chosen due to having some of the highest rates of substance misuse in England and Wales. These areas are:
- Swansea Bay.
It is welcome to see a multi-agency approach with a health-based lens to addressing substance misuse as a factor in contact with the criminal justice system. The voluntary sector provides vital services to people in contact with the criminal justice system with substance misuse issues, but has dealt with the impact of reduced funding with rising caseloads and urgency in recent years.
Collective Voice, a national alliance of drug and alcohol treatment and recovery charities, has nine member organisations that support over 200,000 people with alcohol and substance misuse issues across England every year. They note that England has seen a 17% cut to funding for alcohol and substance misuse treatment since 2015, with some local areas making reductions of over 40% to treatment budgets. These cuts have created costs in other areas of public services, and Collective Voice states that insufficient funding to deliver evidence-based interventions means people experiencing these issues will go without life-saving help.
We hope that the voluntary sector can be a key partner in implementing this project, both at the strategic level and in the areas where the pilots will be rolled-out.
New funding for substance misuse services: £80 million
Considering how vital substance misuse services are and the increasingly complex caseloads they have, we are particularly pleased to see a sizeable investment of £80 million into substance misuse services across England. This funding will specifically support services working with people in contact with the criminal justice system who have substance or alcohol misuse issues, and will go towards increasing the number of treatment places for people leaving prison and those serving community sentences.
It will also assist with diverting people with substance misuse issues to community sentences in order to undertake Drug Rehabilitation Requirements (DRRs) by increasing the number of treatment places for prison leavers and people in contact with the criminal justice system more generally. This must not be confused with the Community Sentence Treatment Requirement (CSTR) programme, which received no funding from this package. The CSTR programme is funded from the NHS Long Term Plan to support regional sites to deliver a complete package of DRRs, Alcohol Treatment Requirements (ATRs) and Mental Health Treatment Requirements (MHTRs), both individually and in combination. The difference between singular DRRs and CSTR sites is that CSTR sites have to offer all three treatment requirements. The aspiration of the programme is for it to be rolled out across the country.
Within this funding package, £2.5 million will be going towards the RECONNECT: Care after Custody programme – a service that facilitates continuity of care for people once they have left prison by providing a link worker to help people navigate the various services that they need to access. This funding will enable an ‘enhanced RECONNECT service’, which will support people released from prison who experience multiple disadvantage to access the right treatment from mental health, substance misuse, accommodation, and other services for up to a year after their release. Read more about the RECONNECT programme here.
New funding for policing: £40 million
Following an initial £25 million of funding for law enforcement to address ‘county lines gangs’ and drug supply, the Home Office has announced another £40 million is to be invested to this, with the increased funding intending to support police to ‘take down and bring to justice county lines gangs and drug kingpins’.
Whilst extra resources going towards the public sector is a welcome step, we are concerned by the language of ‘tackling county lines gangs and drug kingpins’, without a consideration of the factors relating to vulnerability, poverty, and marginalisation that often lead people into drug-related crime. This narrative has a particularly damaging effect on young black men, who are disproportionately in contact with the criminal justice system and are more likely to be targeted for county lines operations, according to the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies. County lines operations run under modern slavery tactics and exploitation of marginalised people, and this narrative overlooks this key factor and contributes to systemic racism through racial profiling and criminalising young black men.
We are also concerned that there is little reference to working with the voluntary sector on this initiative, to ensure that policing on county lines and drugs is conducted in a way that supports community cohesion and trust rather than marginalisation and fear.
Overall, it is a welcome step that some of the £148 million of new investment funding is going towards key services that are delivered by or involve the voluntary sector, that will enable services to work with people in contact with the criminal justice system to address their substance misuse issues and divert them away from custody. We hope that initiatives arising from this investment will work to engage the voluntary sector in their development and delivery. However, it is imperative that we begin to move away from rhetoric used by the Home Office around ‘tackling county lines gangs and drug kingpins’ and understand the racialised impact that these narratives and policies can have, in particular on young black men who are disproportionately criminalised for drug offences. We hope that the voluntary sector can support the government in these initiatives to move towards an approach that understands that people with multiple and complex needs, including substance misuse issues, often have life experiences that have involved trauma, poverty, marginalisation, and discrimination. When we support the services that work with these people that operate through an understanding of the effects of multiple disadvantage, we invest in long-term solutions that result in less people in prison, a dynamic and well-funded voluntary sector, and in turn, a healthier population.
Clinks will continue to work to promote and advocate for the voluntary sector working in the criminal justice system and champion its role in addressing the health inequalities and multiple disadvantage that people in contact with the criminal justice system face, through our work with the Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) coalition, and our membership of the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance.
For further information on recent accommodation funding announcements, read our blog by Policy Manager Nicola Drinkwater here.