In 2018, drug related deaths were at the highest number since records began.

In 2018, more than 4000 people died in the UK (that’s 80 per week, on average) because of dangerous drug policies – these deaths are avoidable.

The UK accounts for approximately a third of all of Europe’s drug deaths.

To put this in context, in 2015 there were 1,700 reported road deaths in the UK, making it less less than half of the number of drug related fatalities.

Young people are most at risk of being criminalised for their drug use.

Drug use is consistently higher among young people than among the population as a whole.

A criminal record can be a barrier to employment, housing, education, travel and financial services, seriously harming an individual’s life chances.

The ‘County Lines’ phenomenon

Young and vulnerable people are exploited as a direct result of drug prohibition, and exposed to high levels of exploitation, intimidation and violence, through the ‘county lines’ drug supply phenomenon.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) estimates there are over 2000 county lines across the UK. 

The Children’s Commissioner estimates that 46,000 children are involved in gang activity in England, and 4,000 teenagers in London alone are being exploited by county lines networks each year.

The threat of a criminal record doesn’t deter young people from using drugs, but it may deter them from seeking medical attention.

There have been many reported cases of teenagers being reluctant to call an ambulance when their friends are in trouble, sometimes with fatal results.

Random drug testing and sniffer dogs in schools are ineffective means of reducing levels of drug use in school aged young people.

Neither have been shown to be effective in deterring drug use.

A study in Michigan involving 76,000 pupils found no difference in levels of drug use among students in schools where drug testing was conducted compared with those where it was not.”

Thousands of children under 15 are searched by the Metropolitan Police Service for drugs and there is no legal requirement for the search to be carried out in the presence of an appropriate adult.

In London, almost 17,000 children aged 15 or younger and nearly 550 aged 12 or below were searched by the Metropolitan Police Service for drugs in 2009/10.

The experience can be frightening and humiliating for those searched and can undermine community trust in the police, especially since 93% of stop and searches for drugs do not result in arrest.

There is a troubling racial disparity in the targeting and punishment of black people for drug related offences.

Despite being no more or even less likely to use drugs than white people, black people are far more likely to be charged for possession rather than cautioned, to be taken to court, to be fined or imprisoned and to get a criminal record than their white counterparts.

Black people are also 6 times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police.

Three times as many black people aged 21 and under are convicted of class A drug supply than white people under 21.

Despite making up just 10 per cent of the people living in London, black people make up 42 per cent of the people convicted for selling class A drugs in London.

This figure rises to 50 per cent for drug dealers under 21.

Young black men have a higher unemployment rate than all other ethnic groups and is more likely to be in prison than at a top University.  

Since decriminalising the use of all drugs  in 2001, Portugal has seen a decline in drug usage. 

The rates of drug use has now declined to below the rates in 2001, including among those aged between 15 and 24, making it far below the European average. 

While around 44.6 in every million people die of drug overdose in the UK just 3 in every million die in Portugal

Since July 2016, there have been over 12,000 extra judicial killings in President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war.

Extra judicial killings of drug users, suppliers and their families is not uncommon in the Philippines, particularly among the urban poor.

Children have been among those who died during police operations, either directly targeted or inadvertently shot by the police.

Despite growing calls for an investigation, Duterte has vowed to continue the campaign.

More than 50,000 children have lost one or more parents in violence related to Mexico’s illegal drug trade.

Since 2006, when Mexico intensified and militarised its approach to drug law enforcement, more than 100,000 people have been killed in a nearly-continuous string of shootouts, bombings, and ever-bloodier murders. 

Around 23,000 young people have also been recruited into organised crime. 

Children make up 25% of those in compulsory drug detention centers in Cambodia.

Abuses in these centres include: detainees being hung by the ankle on flagpoles in the midday sun; shocking by electric batons; whipping by cords, electrical wires, tree branches and water hoses; and rape – including gang rape and forcing young women into sex work.

Abuses are not only carried out by the staff, but also delegated to trusted detainees to carry out against fellow inmates.

More than 80% of all potential victims of trafficking linked to cannabis are Vietnamese children.

There are around 3,000 Vietnamese children enslaved by gangs in the UK.   

Many of these trafficked children are subsequently prosecuted, despite suffering the trauma of being trafficked.

This has led to Vietnamese children becoming the second-largest ethnic group held in youth detention centers across the UK.