Saturday, 31 May 2008

Policy Heading in Right Direction...

The Scottish Executive has laid out a new five point plan for tackling drug use in Scotland. Perhaps, its most important contribution is point one:

Recognising that tackling problem drug use will only be done through effective policies on the economy, tackling poverty, and supporting families and children.

Now, this is exactly the right approach. The areas of Scotland that are devastated through problem drug-use are also areas of massive social deprivation. They are frequently areas that previously relied on hard industry, coal, steel and the like, which have now gone and never been replaced. Such communities are marked by the complete lack of hope; lack of hope for a future; lack of hope that there is something to live for. Problem drug-taking is frequently a response to a lack of incentive not to take drugs.

Yet, while I am pleased that they realise this is the right approach, I wonder how they are going to achieve this. Rural regeneration has been a problem for the last thirty years and, as yet, no one has came up with decisive answers about transforming communities devastated by a lack of employment opportunities and the all the related problems of poverty and deprivation. Throwing £94 million at a problem will not make it go away if there isn’t a clear strategy for regenerating communities in the long-term. Knowing what the problem is, is very different from knowing the answer.

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