Home Office pours £1m into tackling drug-related problems in East End
- Credit: Mike Brooke
A year-long programme to stop youngsters getting into drugs and street crime in the East End is being set up with £1million from the Home Office.
The money is being given to Tower Hamlets Council, with more going to the police to try and tackle drugs criminality on the streets.
The project, termed “addiction, diversion, disruption, enforcement and recovery”, has been set up by Whitehall involving the Department for Health and Public Health England.
Met Police officers are working with the council on a treatment and recovery approach to drug addiction — but also stepping up the war on criminal dealers.
Operation Continuum, which has been running for three years, is being injected with the Whitehall funding to disrupt the illegal drugs supply chain and help the vulnerable victims caught up in it.
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“We are strengthening efforts to target violent crime and to bear down on violent offenders,” Det Supt Mike Harmer warned.
“But we are also working with communities to make sure that we balance the need for support where appropriate, with enforcement where necessary.
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“Enforcement will focus on drug supply, leaving a clear space for treatment for those involved in drugs misuse.
“We want to help young people affected by violence linked to drugs and those who have been drawn into dealing through exploitation, to create positive alternatives and safer space."
The new approach is "a real movement for change" to target drug misuse through what Det Supt Harmer describes as "a commitment to make things better".
It involves the local authority more closely to root out the causes of drugs misuse and reduce deaths and crime, while disrupting criminal supply chains run by gangs and networks involved in drugs and firearms.
Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs said: “It’s important that we tackle the root cause substance misuse and identify those at risk of being exploited or going into organised crime as a result of drugs, especially vulnerable younger people.
“This funding is to help protect those who misuse drugs and to reduce crime associated with the drugs market.”
The Home Office cash is paying for specialist support for youngsters at risk by involving those aged 18 to 24 with education and employment programmes.
It is also funding support services, making sure women misusing substances continue getting treatment.