The problem of drug abuse and particularly drug abuse carried out in public places.

Oct 18, 2017 | Articles, Assembly Business | 0 comments

Plenary Wednesday 18 October 2017

14:26:47
Gareth Bennett AM

Gareth Bennett AM

Party: United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)

Spoken Contribution – 14:26:47
Watch this contribution on Senedd TV | View this contribution in the Record of Proceeding document

Diolch, Llywydd. I wanted to raise today the problem of drug abuse and particularly drug abuse carried out in public places. We’ve had several recent media reports relating to drug users fairly openly injecting heroin in the Butetown area of Cardiff. This also raises the related problem of discarded needles, which can be a real danger to children, which has also been highlighted by the media. This is a problem not only confined to Cardiff; it is also a recurring issue in many of our Valleys towns. So, my first question is: do you recognise this as a major problem, and what steps can the Welsh Government take in helping the relevant authorities to tackle it?

Carl Sargeant AM

Carl Sargeant AM

Party: Welsh Labour 

Drug use and substance misuse is on the increase, but we are seeing an effect of welfare reform having an impact on individuals moving into that space. But let’s not forget that people who are suffering from drug and alcohol or substance misuse are human beings too. We have to think carefully about how we are able to support them in making sure that we can act appropriately to take them off the effects of drugs and alcohol, and put them back onto a pathway of success. It pains me when I see people in our communities taking drugs and the other paraphernalia used to expose themselves to risk. It’s our duty to make sure that we can help everybody in our communities, irrespective of their position in life or where they are.

Gareth Bennett AM

Gareth Bennett AM

Party: United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)

Yes, and I agree with your sentiments. These are human beings—nobody is denying that— and we need to help these people as far as we can to come off their habits. But, in terms of how to deal with it as an issue of public order perhaps, what do you think about the issue of stop and search and how effective it is in helping to provide a safe urban environment?

Carl Sargeant AM

Carl Sargeant AM

Party: Welsh Labour 

The issues around stop and search are a matter for the UK Government and policing but, actually, I don’t think stop and search in itself is helpful in delivering services for people who need to be supported. Our Supporting People programme, along with our substance misuse policy, is designed to help people back into what would be considered a normal way of life, whatever that actually means. But, actually, taking them away from the risk that they pose to themselves and others is something that we should work at carefully.

Gareth Bennett AM

Gareth Bennett AM

Party: United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)

Yes, and Supporting People, of course, we await what the funding for that will be in the upcoming budget, so I’m glad you mentioned Supporting People. But on a related issue on the drug theme, do you have any update on Welsh Government investigations into so-called safe injection zones, where drug users can inject in a medically supervised environment, and do you have any thoughts of your own on this issue whereby it is a possible way of taking needles away from the streets?

Carl Sargeant AM

Carl Sargeant AM

Party: Welsh Labour 

There have been some discussions with authorities, but this is a matter for a different Minister. I will ask the Minister appropriate to write to the Member.