Category Archives: National News

Health bodies call for drugs to be decriminalised

Two leading public health organisations have called for the possession and personal use of all illegal drugs to be decriminalised in the UK.

The Royal Society for Public Health and the Faculty of Public Health said the government’s approach to drugs policy had failed.

There should be a greater focus on treatment and education, they added.

The Home Office defended its record, saying drug misuse had declined over the past 10 years.

The report, called Taking A New Line On Drugs, said criminal sanctions failed to deter illegal drug use, undermined people’s life chances and could act as a barrier to addicts coming forward for help.

It called for a “sea change in approach” and said the UK should adopt the Portuguese system under which people caught using drugs were offered treatment and support rather than being punished.

However, dealers and suppliers would still be prosecuted.
‘New approach’

The report also suggested that drugs education be made mandatory, and that responsibility for drugs policy be moved from the Home Office to the Department of Health.

Those who misuse drugs are in need of treatment and support – not criminals in need of punishment
Shirley Cramer, Royal Society for Public Health

Royal Society for Public Health chief executive Shirley Cramer said: “For too long, UK and global drugs strategies have pursued reductions in drug use as an end in itself, failing to recognise that harsh criminal sanctions have pushed vulnerable people in need of treatment to the margins of society, driving up harm to health and wellbeing even as overall use falls.

“On many levels, in terms of the public’s health, the ‘war on drugs’ has failed.

“The time has come for a new approach, where we recognise that drug use is a health issue, not a criminal justice issue, and that those who misuse drugs are in need of treatment and support – not criminals in need of punishment.”

Baroness Molly Meacher, speaking on behalf of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform, welcomed the report.

She said the current system “criminalises some users of psychoactive drugs whilst very harmful psychoactive drugs including alcohol and tobacco remain legal”.

A Home Office spokesman said: “The UK’s approach on drugs remains clear – we must prevent drug use in our communities and support people dependent on drugs through treatment and recovery.

“At the same time, we have to stop the supply of illegal drugs and tackle the organised crime behind the drugs trade.”

The spokesman said there had been a drop in drug misuse over the past decade and more people were recovering from dependency now than in 2009-10.

Recently Published Report Shows Use Of Drugs & Alcohol In Children

A recently published report shows that children as young as five years old are using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in Antigua.

That data is however three years old as the survey which turned up the finding was done since 2013 and is only now being released.

Observer Media’s Kieron Murdoch reports that the head of the Office of National Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy has attributed the delay to the many channels the report had to go through before publication.

The report provides statistics about the patterns of drug use among local secondary school students as well as access to drugs and the perception of harm from drugs.

ONDCP Director, Lieutenant Colonel Edward Croft says the data Data had to be analyzed and go to the appropriate ministries for them to address any concerns…before the document was published.

The report has revealed that alcohol and marijuana are the choice drugs among the 851 secondary school students who took the self-administered survey in 2013.

The study also shows that although more adolescents used drugs in 2013, overall, when compared with 2005, the increases for each category were relatively small.

Four hundred and 22 boys and 417 girls answered the questionnaire. They were drawn nine government secondary schools and three private institutions.

Fifty-eight per cent of the males reported using marijuana.

Just over half of all the students surveyed, considered marijuana to be quite easy to get and just under a third said they got the illegal substance from a friend.

Wetherspoon and Stonegate pubs tap into St. Peter’s non-alcoholic beer

Pub chain giants JD Wetherspoon and Stonegate will begin pouring a range of non-alcoholic beers brewed by St. Peter’s in a bid to tap into a rise in teetotalism among younger drinkers.

Suffolk brewery St. Peter’s, which already makes cask ales and bottled beers for pubs and supermarkets, has spent three years and nearly £1m developing its alcohol-free beer in a bid to counteract falling alcohol sales.

Chief executive Steve Magnall says younger drinkers “have a completely different attitude to alcohol” which the leisure industry needs to respond to. “They drink less but still want a social pint at the end of the day,” he said.

The idea began in 2013 when St. Peter’s owner John Murphy, the branding guru behind HobNobs biscuits and the Mini Metro car, was diagnosed with cancer meaning he couldn’t drink the brewer’s range of organic ale, bitter, porter and stout.

It has now signed supply deals with Stonegate, which runs 660 pubs in the UK, and JD Wetherspoon, which owns nearly 1,000 outlets, that will begin trialling the draft and bottled beers from next month.

Tesco will stock the beer later this year, as as 1,300 Nisa stores, ahead of “Dry January”, an informal event when people give up alcohol for the month to either detox or raise money for charity.

Around 21pc of Britons are now teetotal, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which has crept up from 19pc five years ago, partly due to growing ethnic diversity but also a broader change in drinking habits.

Although binge drinking is a recognised problem among young people, they are also far less likely to drink alcohol as an age group – around half of 16 to 24 year-olds (48pc) will have had a drink in the past week, compared with two-thirds of 45-64 year-olds, ONS figures show.

Mr Magnall said that the drinks market is rapidly moving towards lower-calorie and soft drinks. “But blokes in particular want to stand there holding a pint in their hand, not an orange juice or a coke,” he said.

St. Peter’s’ “Without” range, which turns out around 200,000 bottles a month, is made using a tightly-guarded brewing process that Mr Magnall says is different from versions already on the market, such as Becks Blue, where the alcohol is stripped from the beer during the alkalisation process.

“This process makes the beer very thin,” he said. “But our drink feels like you’re drinking a beer, looks like a beer, and tastes like a beer.”

It currently makes up 10pc of the £4m-turnover brewery’s output, with all 16 of its brewers required to sign a non-disclosure agreement to keep the brewing process a secret.

At 0.009pc alcohol, according to the brewery’s latest test, Mr Magnall says there is more alcohol in a glass of orange juice than a bottle of Without.

St. Peter’s brewery, which also has a gluten-free beer range, posted £3.8m sales in the year to February 28 2015, according to the latest available results, and a £44,800 pre-tax loss.

Drug dealers selling Pokemon ecstasy pills to target youngsters and cash in on computer game craze

Yellow-Pikachu

Dangerous ecstasy tablets in the shape of characters from Pokémon are on sale for less than a pound as dealers cash in on the computer game craze.

The Sunday People found that super-strength­ pills laced with ecstasy and the drug 2CB are being made in Dutch factories, then smuggled in bulk via encrypted ‘dark net’ drugs markets.

UK dealers pay with the anonymous online bitcoin currency and make huge profits by selling tablets at £5 a time.

The streets are being flooded with these Class A drugs .

Two teenage girls have died this year after taking ecstasy. And a 13-year-old boy and three girls aged 12 are seriously ill after taking the pills in the last month alone.

Callous dealers make tablets attractive to youngsters by moulding them into the shape of “Pikachu” characters from Pokémon.
They plan to rake in a fortune­ following the global launch Nintendo’s app phenomenon Pokémon GO last Thursday.

The app uses GPS to alert players on smartphones when Pokémon creatures are in nearby real-life locations, then urges them­ to track them down on foot to capture them.

The tablets bear names such as Minions, iPhones, Twitter, Hello Kitty and Lego.

We found Pikachu pills on a special-access Ebay-style auction­, one of dozens hidden on the deep web.

Dealers can buy 50 high-dose tablets for £49.71.

The shadowy seller from Holland warned us: “They are really high dosed 2CB pills – so be careful.”

A staggering 17,635 ecstasy batches are in stock at the illegal cyber store, which also sells guns, hitmen services and fake documents.

We also found Pikachu pills containing 210mg of ecstasy – dangerously above the recommended safe dose.

A gang source in Manchester ­revealed: “There are hundreds of thousands of these pills being pressed in Holland and Germany and shipped here.

“Chances of them being intercepted­ are pretty slim. Sell them for a fiver a go and you make a wedge. There’s massive demand. Pills are back in a big way.”

Brits killed by illegal drugs hits highest level since records began

The number of Brits killed by illegal drugs has hit its highest level since records began.

Deaths related to misuse of illegal drugs in England and Wales are at their highest level since records began in 1993, official figures revealed.

In 2014, there were 2,250 deaths related to the misuse of illegal drugs.

This was a rise of 15% on 2013 – 1,960 – and 44% higher than in 2004 – 1,570.

Men accounted for 72% of the deaths and women, 28%.

There were also 14,279 hospital admissions for illegal drug poisoning in 2014/15, up 2% on the previous year and up 57% since 2004/05.
This is in spite of a 10.5% fall in adult drug use over the same decade.

Leading health experts demanded urgent action from the Government to tackle the problem.

Shirley Cramer CBE, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, said the new figures were a ‘stark reminder’ of the ‘continued failure of UK government drugs policy’.

She added: “Despite falls in use, more people are dying and suffering serious harm to their health from drug misuse than ever before.

Men account for nearly three quarters of deaths due to drug use

The number of Brits killed by illegal drugs has hit its highest level since records began.

Deaths related to misuse of illegal drugs in England and Wales are at their highest level since records began in 1993, official figures revealed.

In 2014, there were 2,250 deaths related to the misuse of illegal drugs.

This was a rise of 15% on 2013 – 1,960 – and 44% higher than in 2004 – 1,570.

Men accounted for 72% of the deaths and women, 28%.

There were also 14,279 hospital admissions for illegal drug poisoning in 2014/15, up 2% on the previous year and up 57% since 2004/05.

This is in spite of a 10.5% fall in adult drug use over the same decade.

Leading health experts demanded urgent action from the Government to tackle the problem.

Shirley Cramer CBE, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, said the new figures were a ‘stark reminder’ of the ‘continued failure of UK government drugs policy’.

She added: “Despite falls in use, more people are dying and suffering serious harm to their health from drug misuse than ever before.

Health & Social Care Information Centre

“This is largely a result of a drugs policy that has over-focused on criminal justice at the expense of public health, pushing the most vulnerable users to the margins of society and discouraging them from coming forward for treatment and support.

Across the globe, many countries have started to turn this situation around by decriminalising drug use and moving towards policies based on public health and harm reduction.

“Given yet more evidence that harm to the public is increasing, the time is now right for the UK to adopt a new approach to drugs policy.
Thursday’s report by the Health & Social Care Information Centre also found that in 2014, 15% of pupils aged 11 to 15 had taken drugs.

Hospital admissions for drug-related problems reach decade high

More people are ending up in hospital with physical or mental health problems related to drug use than at any time in the past 10 years, despite an overall fall in the number of people using illegal drugs, figures show.

There were 14,279 cases of people admitted to hospital with a primary diagnosis of poisoning by illicit drugs in England in 2014-15, the latest year for which figures are available – a 57% rise since 2004-05 and up 2% year on year.
About 2.7 million people in England and Wales used illicit drugs in the past year
At the same time, 74,801 hospital admissions resulted in a primary or secondary diagnosis of drug-related mental health and behavioural disorders, a 9% rise over 2013-14 and more than double the level of 10 years ago, according to the data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

The figures will prove uncomfortable for policymakers who say they are keen to minimise the harm caused by drugs in society, particularly with separate data from the crime survey of England and Wales, also published on Thursday, showing a continued decline in drug use. Despite that, deaths from drug poisoning are at an all-time high.

Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), which last month called for the decriminalisation of drugs, said the contrasting figures showed up UK drugs policy as a “continued failure”.

She said: “Despite falls in use, more people are dying and suffering serious harm to their health from drug misuse than ever before. This is largely a result of a drugs policy that has over-focused on criminal justice at the expense of public health, pushing the most vulnerable users to the margins of society and discouraging them from coming forward for treatment and support.

“Across the globe, many countries have started to turn this situation around by decriminalising drug use and moving towards policies based on public health and harm reduction. Given yet more evidence that harm to the public is increasing, the time is now right for the UK to adopt a new approach to drugs policy.”
Deaths related to drug misuse in England and Wales are at their highest level since comparable records began in 1993
The HSCIC data showed that adults between the ages of 16-34 were the most likely to end up up in hospital for drug poisoning, with that age group constituting 45% of cases. Slightly more than half – 54% – of those admitted were men. Blackpool borough council had the highest rate of admissions, with 103 per 100,000 of population.

Hospital admissions for drug poisoning are up 57% in the past 10 years
Admissions in England with a primary diagnosis of poisoning by illicit drugs

Among those admitted to hospital with primary or secondary diagnoses of drug-related mental health and behavioural disorders, most (59%) were aged between 25-44, and 69% were male. Liverpool had the highest rate of admissions, with 444 per 100,000 population. Overall, the north-west had the highest hospital admissions for drug-related problems of any English region.

Hospital admissions with a primary or secondary diagnosis of drug-related mental health and behavioural disorders have more than doubled in the past 10 years

Increases in hospital admissions for drug-related problems mirror a soaring rate of drug deaths which was first reported by the Office for National Statistics last September and was highlighted again in the HSCIC report on Thursday.

Coroners attributed 2,248 deaths to drug misuse in 2014, the latest year for which that data is available, an increase of 15% on 2013. The figure represents a 44% rise from 2004 and the highest number of drug deaths since at least 1993, when comparable records began.

But Paul Hayes, chief executive of Collective Voice, an umbrella group for third-sector substance misuse services, said that merely blaming the increase in deaths on austerity cuts to drug treatment was simplistic. A number of factors including increased availability of strong heroin and an ageing population of drug users was to blame for the increase in deaths, which Hayes said was more a “return to trend” than a dramatic escalation.

“It isn’t use that’s driving it, it’s age and vulnerability,” Hayes said. “Their lung function is shot to pieces, their livers are shot to pieces, their hearts aren’t very good. So [with] the same behaviour in terms of using drugs that they could get away with when they were 25, when they’re 45 they keel over and die.”

“Legal highs” and the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016: what employers need to know

The Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 (the Act) will come into force on 26 May 2016. You can find government guidance and resources on the Government’s website.
160523_drug-testing
What does the Act do?

The Act makes it a criminal offence to produce, supply, offer to supply, possess with intent to supply and import or export psychoactive substances. The main thrust of the new law is to allow the police and local authorities to shut down shops and websites that currently trade in ‘legal highs’.

The law is targeted at the supply and production of legal highs. Unlike pre-existing drugs legislation, the Act does not criminalise individual users. Simple possession is not a criminal offence, except in a custodial institution. There are also protections for certain ‘excluded activities’ which cover healthcare activities and legitimate scientific research to develop new medicines.

The new offences will work alongside the existing laws around controlled drugs – such as heroin, cocaine and amphetamines. Police will be able to stop and search individuals, vehicles, vessels and aircraft and (with a warrant) enter any premises to seize substances and/or evidence.
Which substances are covered?

The Act covers any substance which is deemed to be psychoactive; that is, any substance intended for human consumption which is capable of producing a psychoactive effect. This is defined very broadly in the Act as any affect which, by stimulating or depressing the central nervous system, affects a person’s mental functioning or emotional state.

This wide definition has been one of the more contentious aspects of the Act. The Government’s own drugs adviser, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, previously warned that it was too broad and unworkable in practice – it captured common substances such as caffeine, nicotine and, perhaps surprisingly, even certain foodstuffs like nutmeg.

To help address those concerns, the Act provides for a number of exempted classes of substances which will not be regulated by the new law:

Medicinal products;
Controlled drugs (as these are already illegal under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971);
Alcohol;
Caffeine, nicotine and tobacco products; and
Foodstuffs (unless supplied primarily for their psychoactive effect).

The Government is free to add or remove items from the list of exempted substances. The intention is that this will allow new medicines – which have been tested and deemed safe – to be exempted in the future.
Sanctions

The penalties for producing, supplying or offering to supply psychoactive substances are up to seven years in jail, an unlimited fine, or both. The law also gives wide powers to the police – and in some cases local authorities – to obtain a new raft of civil sanctions:

Prohibition Notices and Prohibition Orders – these require the subject to stop carrying out activities prohibited by the Act and/or hand over stocks of psychoactive substances.
Premises Notices and Premises Orders – these can be directed at employers and landlords and their severity can range from requiring the employer/landlord to take all reasonable steps to prevent prohibited activities taking place on their premises, to imposing a complete ‘access prohibition’ which effectively closes down their premises for up to six months.

These civil sanctions can be imposed as an alternative or in addition to the criminal offences. Breach of one of the Orders is itself a criminal offence punishable by up to two years in jail, an unlimited fine, or both. In addition, following amendments to the original Act, supplying or offering to supply psychoactive substances to a child will result in automatic inclusion on the Children’s barred list.

What does this mean for employers?

To ensure that the issue of misuse of drugs and alcohol in the workplace can be addressed, many employers already operate drug and alcohol policies. This is particularly the case where the organisation is involved in health and safety critical activity such as in the rail, aviation, construction or mining industries. Those policies establish the rules which bind employees and allow employers to ensure that employees are treated consistently and fairly in the event of breach. Such policies are also often implemented as a supportive measure where drug and alcohol use are seen as an illness.

What are the legal obligations on employers?

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA) requires employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of all employees while at work. Employers also have a responsibility to ensure that others are not exposed to any risk as a result of their business activities or their employees’ work related actions. In addition, under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, employers must not knowingly permit use of controlled substances on their premises. This includes employees who drive for work – under the Road Traffic Act 1988 and Transport and Works Act 1992.

Although the law does not ban possession and use of legal highs, an employer is unlikely to be found to have discharged its duties under the HSWA if it does not take steps to assess the risk of psychoactive substances being used in the workplace and subsequently implements appropriate control measures. For example, if an employee under the influence of legal highs causes harm to themselves or others while at work, an employer might be found liable for those actions if they failed to take reasonable measures to control drug use at work.

In addition, imagine the consequences of your premises being shut down by the police and the press interest if a premises notice or order was issued, if it were found that an employee had been supplying psychoactive substances while at work. So it’s not just the risk of accident or injury present if the employee has indulged, but also the risk to the reputation and operations of the business as a result of supply within the workplace.

What should employers be doing now?
Review

The introduction of the new prohibition on legal highs is the latest development which will impact on existing policies and risk assessments.

Employers should review their Drug and Alcohol or substance misuse policy and any relevant risk assessments to ensure they are sufficiently robust to cover the use of “legal highs” or psychoactive substances and amend where necessary. If no policy or risk assessments exist employers will need to create them.

Employers should also review their Disciplinary Rules to make it clear that examples of gross misconduct include:

Supply or attempted supply of psychoactive substances banned under the Act; and
Being under the influence of a psychoactive substance.

Communicate

The organisation’s attitude to and policy on drug and alcohol use at work must be clear. Any amendments to any existing policy or working practice should be communicated clearly to the workforce. In particular, the expectation of the employer must be communicated to staff together with the consequences of breach. There should also be a robust procedure in place which encourages employees to report any issues.
Testing

Publicise drug and alcohol testing arrangements and ensure these tests will capture substances which are considered psychoactive under the new Act.

Remember, such testing requires the consent of the individual concerned. Ensure that there is scope for a refusal to result in disciplinary action and ensure that the workforce is aware that there may be consequences should there be a refusal. Employers should also take care to ensure that the requirement for testing complies with the ICO’s Employment Practices Data Protection Code – Information about Workers’ Health.
Education

A combination of induction training, refresher training and briefings to employees will ensure employees are aware of:

The harmful effects that legal highs, especially if combined with stress or fatigue, can have on a person’s ability to carry out their role;
Any help and assistance available to staff to encourage them to come forward if they feel that they may have issues with alcohol or drugs;
Any training available on how to spot potential problems and how to report these.

NOT LEGAL ADVICE. Information made available on this website in any form is for information purposes only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. You should not rely on, or take or fail to take any action based upon this information. Never disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking legal advice because of something you have read.

Legal Highs

Find out about the health risks of legal highs and when to seek medical help.

Legal highs are substances that have similar effects to illegal drugs like cocaine or cannabis. They are sometimes called club drugs or new psychoactive substances (NPS).

Many of these drugs are now controlled, but some are still legal to possess. This does not mean they are safe or approved for people to use.

Some drugs marketed as legal highs actually contain ingredients that are illegal to possess.
The risks of legal highs

Legal highs can carry serious health risks. The chemicals they contain have in most cases never been used before in drugs for human consumption.

This means they haven’t been tested to show they are safe. Users can never be certain what they are taking and what the effects might be.

Other risks:

You increase the risk to yourself if you combine alcohol with any legal or illegal drug.
Legal highs can reduce your inhibitions, so you do things you wouldn’t normally do. They can cause paranoia, coma, seizures and, in rare cases, death.
Because the chemical ingredients in a branded product can be changed without you knowing, the risks are unpredictable.
Even drugs that look similar or have similar names may be of varying strengths and have different effects.

When to get medical help

Most problems with short-term use of legal highs will settle after you stop taking them. However, the negative effects of some legal highs can take a few days to wear off completely, just like the comedown from stimulants such as cocaine or amphetamines.

If you think you’re having a serious negative reaction soon after taking a legal high, or you experience problems that do not settle with a little time out, fluids and fresh air, get medical help straight away by going to the accident and emergency (A&E) department of your nearest hospital.

If you’re worried about continuing health problems after you’ve stopped taking the drugs, visit your GP. But if you think further advice would be helpful before deciding whether or not to visit your GP, call the FRANK drugs helpline on 0300 123 6600, or NHS 111.
Legal highs and the law

Many drugs that were previously sold as legal highs are now controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act, including mephedrone (meow meow or mcat), naphyrone, BZP and GBL. This means they are illegal to possess or supply to others.

There are lots of different types of synthetic cannabinoids, and a large number have become Class B drugs.

11-year-olds admitted to A&E for alcohol abuse

11-year-olds admitted to A&E for alcohol abuse: number is up by a third in a single year

Number is a 35 per cent increase on previous 12 months
Another 145 were treated for drug abuse
Expert says it is now ‘common’ for 20-year-old to die of liver disease

The number of children aged 11 and under being taken to A&E after drinking too much has soared by a third in the last year.

Across the UK, 293 youngsters were admitted to hospital after abusing alcohol – a rise of 35 per cent.

Another 145 in the same age group were taken to hospital for drug abuse – up by 14 per cent.
Doctors say that most hospitals have patients in their 20s dying of liver disease, having started drinking at 11 or 12.

The figures show that alcohol problems appear to be worsening in young children just as trends for older age groups appear to be stabilising.

Doctors are also worried about teenage girls who are leaving themselves vulnerable to assault by becoming so intoxicated.

According to an investigation by BBC Radio 5 Live’s Victoria Derbyshire Programme, there were 6,580 alcohol-related admissions for all youngsters aged 18 or under last year – which although very high has fallen from 7,821.

Dr Morten Draegebo, an A&E consultant, said: ‘We have had many cases where young teenage females have come in saying that they may have been sexually assaulted.

‘They’re that intoxicated and are distressed and say I may have been but they don’t even know if they have been or not.

‘On a humane level that is very distressing. I’m a parent, I would hate for that to happen to my daughter.’

Dr Draegebo. who works at Cross House Hospital in Kilmarnock, Scotland, added: ‘There is a problem with their ability to defend themselves.

‘The typical patient may be found in a field.

‘They often need to hide away from any sort of adults in the area so they’re picked up by the ambulance service.

Drug and Drive

A new roadside test being used by the Police means if you drug drive you’re more likely to be caught and since the new law introduced last year – you’re also more likely to be convicted.

It is an offence to drive with certain drugs above a specified level in your blood. Seventeen medicines and illegal drugs are covered by the law, including cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine. The limits for all illegal drugs are extremely low.

Taking even a very small amount of an illegal drug could put you over the limit. The Police can now check how much you’ve taken using a roadside drug screening device or test your ability to drive using a field impairment assessment.

A drug drive conviction will have a serious effect on your life including a criminal record and a minimum 12 month driving ban and either a heavy fine, 6 months prison sentence or both.

So THINK! Don’t take drugs and drive.

Source talk to frank