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Declaration of principle


UK Harm Reduction Alliance
(Working for healthier drug policies)

DECLARATION

We are gravely concerned about the current direction of British drug policy. We call on the government to take action in the following areas:

THE MOVE AWAY FROM PUBLIC HEALTH TOWARDS CRIME-REDUCTION 
Move the drug strategy back towards public health and away from a coercive 'criminal justice' agenda justified by selective use of weak evidence. The UK's public health approach is seen as a model of good practice around the world. Scarce resources would be better used in improving the existing, stretched treatment services for people with drug problems who often face long waiting lists. The present policy increasingly creates an incentive to commit crime in order to gain access to treatment and social care services.

BLOOD-BORNE VIRUSES
Improve services to prevent and treat blood-borne viruses among people who inject. Develop a national strategy for the prevention and management of hepatitis C - a public health emergency. Maintain existing HIV prevention services and build substantially on the current, commendable efforts to provide hepatitis B vaccination.

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YOUNG PEOPLE
Create a positive climate in which young people's need for information and concerns about drug-taking can be addressed. Complement existing efforts to provide effective primary prevention work by increasingsupport for programmes that help reduce the harms among the many young people who try drugs.

REGULATING DRUGS
We call for a Royal Commission regarding the laws controlling drugs to ensure that they are regulated in a way that minimises the harm they can cause. The quick dismissal of Lady Runciman's recent recommendations reinforces our concern that drug policy is increasingly driven by the need for headlines rather than being based on evidence and advice from specialists in the field.

PROTECTING PROVIDERS OF CARE
Address problems concerning the legal context in which care and treatment is provided in order to provide proper protection for people who work with this socially excluded group.

NO AMERICAN DRUG WAR HERE
Reject a politically-expedient, economically-costly American-style 'drug war' that increases the harm to our communities. By making exaggerated claims about drugs and crime and scapegoating drug users the government increases their social exclusion and contradicts its other commendable efforts to promote the inclusion of marginalized groups.

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