Agencies combine resources to tackle drug abuse in children

A £50 million fund has been created to ensure young people get drug treatment, education and early intervention where it is needed, faster and more effectively, the Home Office has announced today.

The fund, which has been created for Drug Action Teams to specifically target under-19's, pulls together money from the Home Office, departments for Health and Education and the Youth Justice Board and forms part of the total £155 million available this year to help tackle young people's substance misuse.

The move could see greater efficiency as Drug Action Teams will now be able to apply for one grant, rather than six or seven, to fund all their young people's treatment needs.

Through the fund, it is hoped that a whole range of substance misuse work will flow – from education, to early intervention through to treatment.

The scale of drugs experimentation by school pupils was revealed in a Department of Health survey which found that 18% of pupils had taken drugs in 2002, a decrease from 20% in 2001. This decrease was seen among girls (17% in 2002, 19% in 2001), but there was no significant change among boys (20% in 2002, 21% in 2001).

Figures for 2002/03 show that class A drug use among young people (16 to 24 year olds) has been broadly stable since 1996 with recent falls in class A drug use, particularly ecstasy. In 2002/03 around 5.4% of young people had used ecstasy in the past 12 months – a reduction of 21% on the previous year.

Last year 16,000 vulnerable young people received support for drug problems and the government has set a target for that to increase to 50,000 by 2006.

Speaking at the third national Young People's Substance Misuse conference in Leeds, Home Office Drugs Minister Caroline Flint said: "We want to reduce the number of people taking drugs. Education, prevention and treatment all work and we will continue to try to reduce the number of young people who go on to become serious drug users."

Ms Flint also pointed to the success of the FRANK campaign – the government's information source for parents and children.

In February the FRANK hotline received 35,000 calls - an average of almost 1,150 calls a day.


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