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Drugs failure overshadows Blair's crime manifesto
date: 11-March-2005
source : TELEGRAPH
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Our policy does not work. Solution: Let's do more of the same! Way to go, TB!!!!

The launch of Labour's crime manifesto was overshadowed yesterday by a report showing that a key government anti-drugs initiative is failing.

The Commons public accounts committee said that only 28 per cent of offenders who received a drug treatment and testing order actually completed them.

The figure emerged as Labour's crime document, promising to extend drug testing programmes for offenders, was unveiled by Tony Blair.

The Government introduced treatment and testing orders seven years ago in an attempt to get drug-using offenders to give up their addiction.

Under the procedure, the courts can impose an order on an offender who is not being sent to jail. Thousands of orders are issued every year, lasting from six months to three years. For the first three months, offenders are supposed to spend at least 15 hours a week in contact with a probation officer.

According to the public accounts committee, only 28 per cent of orders were successfully terminated in 2003.

The rest were abandoned, largely because offenders failed to obey the conditions or because they committed another crime. Among those who failed to complete an order, the reoffending rate was 91 per cent.

The report also said that only 44 per cent of offenders received the 15 hours a week of probation contact they were supposed to be getting.

Edward Leigh, the Tory chairman of the committee, said: "If the Home Office is to ensure that offenders do not slip back into the cycle of drugs and crime then these figures must be improved." Mr Blair did not mention the report as he published his crime manifesto, which called for "a massive increase" in drug testing and drug treatment. The Prime Minister said that, if Labour were re-elected, prolific offenders who used drugs before going to prison would be randomly tested twice a week when they were released on parole.

Labour also promised that a Violent Crime Reduction Bill, dealing with gun and knife offences, would be introduced almost immediately after a general election victory.

The age at which a teenager is allowed to buy a knife would be raised from 16 to 18 and head teachers would be given the power to search pupils for weapons.

The police would have the right to insist as a condition of getting a licence that certain pubs and clubs searched customers for guns or knives before letting them in.

The rules relating to imitation firearms would be tightened with under-18s banned from buying them. Labour's document also promised more community support officers, and the use of "drink banning orders" to exclude people convicted three times of alcohol-related disorder from town centres.

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