Tower Hamlets Council has been awarded nearly £1million in a bid to tackle substance misuse in the borough through a targeted one-year intervention programme.
The funding package is part of Project ADDER (Addiction, Diversion, Disruption, Enforcement and Recovery), a joint Home Office, Department for Health and Social Care and Public Health England programme which is testing an intense whole-system approach to tackling drug misuse and drug-related crime.
A separate funding package has also been awarded to Tower Hamlets BCU, meaning the council and local police can work in partnership to offer a system-wide approach to tackling drugs. This will include additional investment into treatment and recovery support services, drug outreach and strengthening existing drug enforcement work through the ongoing Operation Continuum partnership.
The programme aims to reduce drug-related deaths, drug-related offending and the prevalence of drugs as well as disrupting high-harm criminals and networks involved in the drug market and firearms supply.
John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets said: “Substance misuse is extremely complex and it’s important that we tackle the root cause to improve people’s health and also save lives. It’s also vital that we identify individuals who are at risk of being exploited or going into organised crime as a result of drugs, especially younger people who are particularly vulnerable to this.
“This funding will help us both to protect people who misuse drugs and also reduce crime associated with drug taking and the drug market. We have some incredible support services already on offer so this funding will help us to bolster these and also develop and deliver new projects to keep our residents safe.”
Councillor Sirajul Islam, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Faith and Equalities, said: “Tackling crime and anti-social behaviour is a top priority for the council, so to receive this additional funding which will enable us to take a holistic approach in addressing substance misuse is very welcome.
“In Tower Hamlets we have maintained investment in treatment and recovery support and this funding also means we can ramp up delivery of these services to support people with drug addiction and address the root causes of drug misuse.
“This is in addition to our Operation Continuum partnership work with local police to enforce against drug dealing and disrupt the drug market and supply chains in our borough.”
Through the Project ADDER programme, the council will be funding projects including:
- specialist support for young people who are at risk of going into crime or being exploited through crime
- developing and delivering a process for making sure women involved in substance misuse receive continuity of care and treatment across different settings
- funding the 18 – 24-year-old Navigators Team to reduce drug-related offending and actively engage young people into treatment and other positive activities
- education and employment opportunities for 18-24-year-olds through joined up working with key partners.
Tower Hamlets BCU funding will be used to strengthen existing work around enforcement and disrupting the local drug market.
Detective Superintendent Mike Harmer, Central East BCU, said: “Here at Central East (Tower Hamlets and Hackney) we are strengthening our efforts to target the drivers of violent crime, which remains our priority.
“Project ADDER will allow us to deploy more resources into the areas where violence happens the most and have a greater public presence to bear down on violent offenders. We will also continue to work with our communities and valued partners to ensure that we balance the need for diversion and support where appropriate, with enforcement where necessary. Any enforcement will focus on drug supply, leaving a clear space for diversion and treatment for those involved in drugs misuse.
“My officers are planning various operations and activities which will focus on the prevention of violence and the reduction of anti-social behaviour which we know is a concern for many of our communities. We also want to help young people who are affected by the violence associated with drugs, or who have been drawn into dealing through exploitation, by working closely with partners to create positive alternatives and safer spaces. Project Adder provides a real movement for change by laying the foundations of success to target drugs misuse and the harm caused through a local commitment to make things better.”