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Home Affairs Committee's Drugs Report: Angelus Foundation Says the Prime Minister Should Not Have Rejected a Royal Commission

LONDON, December 10, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

The Angelus Foundation today welcomed the Home Affairs Committee's (HAC) report but condemned the Government for rejecting a Royal Commission and also not recognising the vital role of drugs education and prevention.

The Prime Minister said today he has rejected a Royal Commission because it would be "very, very long-term" even though the HAC report set a time limit of 2015 for its completion.

Angelus does not support legalisation. Para 128 of HAC report includes Angelus's evidence to the committee, "The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 has not shown it can be used to reduce prevalence of the new drugs-it should be fully reviewed." A Royal Commission would be highly effective way of carrying through a review of drug law.

The PM also said, "Drugs use is coming down, the emphasis on treatment is absolutely right, and we need to continue with that to make sure we can really make a difference. Also, we need to do more to keep drugs out of our prisons. These are the government's priorities…" The list of the priorities did not include education or prevention.

The Home Affairs Select Committee report 'Breaking the Cycle' highlighted the worrying trend of young people taking many legal highs with no knowledge of their risks. Last year, there were 49 new drugs discovered (EMCDDA* figures) which was a record; this year the total could be as high as 70. At the same time, the Department of Education has cut its budget for drugs education by 80 percent.

The founder of Angelus, Maryon Stewart, said, "It is hard to believe that, at a time when young people have never been more vulnerable to a whole wave of legal highs, the Prime Minister is turning his back on a Royal Commission. There is an urgent need to pool the wisdom on drugs and work to find a solution. If the PM thinks a Royal Commission would take too long, then he should propose a faster alternative.

"There have been some Government successes on drugs policy but education certainly isn't one of them. The Prime Minister set the priorities on drugs for Government today and forgot he is also responsible for trying to prevent drug problems in the first place."

The Angelus Foundation is the only charity solely dedicated to combating legal highs and club drugs and launched a national campaign in October including the website http://www.whynotfindout.org.

(*EMCDDA - European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction)

Notes to editors:

1) In response to the Home Affair Committee's drug report, David Cameron said today, "Drugs use is coming down, the emphasis on treatment is absolutely right, and we need to continue with that to make sure we can really make a difference. Also, we need to do more to keep drugs out of our prisons. These are the government's priorities and I think we should continue with that rather than have some very, very long-term royal commission."

2) The Angelus Foundation maintains there is almost no guidance or resources given by the Department of Education to schools and universities to give young people information about drugs, particularly legal highs. In March this year the Home Secretary's set out the priorities for drug policy to the Chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and did not mention education or prevention.

3) Figures show that spending on drugs education has fallen from £5.4 million in 2006-7 to £3.9m in 2009-10 and £0.5m in 2010-11.

4) The Angelus Foundation is the only drugs charity dedicated to combating legal highs and club drugs and launched a national campaign in October including the website http://www.whynotfindout.org. There is also a site for families http://www.angelusfoundation.com.

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