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All Party Parliamentary Group's (APPG) report 'Towards a Safer Drug Policy': Angelus Calls for Leadership over Legal Highs Education

LONDON, January 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

The Angelus Foundation, as the only charity dedicated to combating legal highs, has called for Ministers to "show some leadership" following publication of the Parliamentary report on New Psychoactive Substances. Angelus fully supports the report's main finding that, "the greatest risk to young people from new psychoactive substances derives from the absence of reliable information" and condemns Government "inertia" over the lack of any effective programme of drug prevention and education.

After consultation with many experts from the Angelus Advisory Board, the APPG report published today rightly highlights the deeply worrying trend of some young people taking many new substances with no knowledge of the risks. It said: "The greatest risk to young people from new psychoactive substances derives from the absence of reliable information about the contents and strength of each new substance and its effects both short and long term."

The APPG also recommended, "Preventive programmes with a strong evidence base should be promoted much more widely within schools and the community and that resources should be made available for robust evaluation in the UK of preventive programmes."

Last year, a new drug was discovered on average every six days. (EMCDDA figures). 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: "The problem of legal highs is a growing and often hidden menace in Britain today. That is precisely why this Parliamentary group has focussed so heavily on the vital need for preventative education. Yet at the very moment when we need to get potentially life-saving information to young people, there is just inertia from Government. It is high time Ministers showed the necessary leadership and gave drugs education some political priority about raising awareness about the dangers of legal highs as part of a proper education initiative."

Notes to editors:

1) Maryon Stewart lost her daughter to GBL and established the Angelus Foundation. It 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.

2) Angelus 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. Earlier 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 - including information services - has fallen from £3.9m in 2009-10 to £0.5m in 2010-11.

4) The easy access to legal highs will be exposed by BBC London's Inside Out to be broadcast on 14 January at 7.30 pm (Sky channel 954)

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