Guest column: We cannot relax in the fight to beat drugs menace

John Mann MP
John Mann MP

Over the Easter weekend, I was delighted to see reports appear in the press that a British ivory trade ban would go ahead.

I am delighted to see tough action being taken to ensure that this awful wildlife crime is stamped out and animal welfare protected.

This week, the Office for National Statistics has published research showing that coastal and rural communities have some of the highest death rates from drugs.

Shortly after I became Bassetlaw’s MP, I launched an inquiry into the serious problem with heroin use in area, publishing the findings in late 2002.

I used that report to pressure Government ministers on treatment services, rehabilitation, school funding, employment opportunities and criminal justice sanctions.

Today, Bassetlaw’s death rate has fallen to 1.5 per 100,000 from heroin and/or morphine misuse.

I remain firmly of the view that drug misuse is something all communities need to come together to tackle.

Whilst Bassetlaw’s problem may not be as severe as it once was, we must still never be complacent particularly with the rise of synthetic drugs and other new challenges.

The very best response to drug misuse is a good policy to tackle it.

That means appropriate sanctions in the criminal justice system alongside proper rehabilitation.

It means a well-funded and properly resourced NHS with appropriately skilled professionals to identify patterns of drug misuse and offer appropriate support.

Hand in hand with this should be community services which can work with users to break the cycle of addiction and become responsible members of society.

And it means good labour market opportunities so people can make their own living through responsible work.

Whilst I am pleased that our community is doing much better, I am also concerned that Government cuts mean these policies are starting to unravel.

I will always fight to ensure that Bassetlaw has the very best services to ensure that drug misuse does not blight our lives.