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The UKDPC report, A Fresh Approach to Drugs, called for a change in policy in several areas:
- Drugs policy needs to be changed to focus on lowering the risk of harm to users and to others, and the bar should be set particularly high for children and young people.
- Government and society should support individuals to behave responsibly.
- Current programmes aiming to prevent young people from using drugs through education and information generally "have little or no impact" and can even increase drug use.
- Traditional law enforcement efforts often "have limited or no sustained impact on supply" and can have unintended consequences.
- Instead, police action should focus on particularly harmful groups or behaviours, such as using intelligence to identify and prosecute dealers who are particularly violent or who exploit children.
Dame Ruth Runciman, the UKDPC chairwoman, said while Government programmes to reduce the damage caused by drug problems - like needle exchanges and investment in treatment for addicts - are supported by evidence, "much of the rest of drug policy does not have an adequate evidence base."
A fellow commission member, the former chief executive of the Medical Research Council Professor Colin Blakemore, added:
The UKDPC called for Parliament "to revisit the level of penalties applied to all drug offences and particularly those concerned with production and supply", but stopped short of calling for the decriminalisation or legalisation of most drugs.
The report, titled A Fresh Approach to Drugs, said:
But the commission said policy makers were failing to deal effectively with drugs - amid the rapid creation of new substances. The report added:
Britain's annual £3 billion war on drugs is a waste of public money that is not based on evidence and damages lives, experts have said following a six-year study.
The final report of the UK Drug Policy Commission (UKDPC) called for a "wholesale review" of drugs laws, in which possessing small amounts of drugs for personal use should be made a civil offence instead of a criminal offence.
The independent body likened using illegal drugs to gambling or eating junk food.