A better Medway
Medway combating drugs partnership logo

Drugs and problematic use of alcohol can cause severe and widespread harm to society. This is because:

  • illegal drug use and the supply of drugs drives crime, contributing to almost half of all homicides and half of other serious crimes including burglary, robbery and theft
  • drugs and alcohol use are often key factors that underpin acts of domestic and sexual abuse as well as domestic homicides
  • alcohol is a contributing factor in half of all violent incidents that occur across the UK
  • drugs and alcohol have an impact on a person's physical and mental health, including life expectancy
  • problematic alcohol use is associated with obesity, liver disease, alcohol-related brain damage and vascular dementia
  • illegal drugs or misuse of prescription medicines can also lead to serious medical conditions
  • harms caused by illegal drug use and alcohol put a huge burden on the NHS, social care, and wider support services due to the broader impact on families.

In 2021, almost 16,000 deaths in the UK were found to be directly linked to drugs and alcohol. This was an increase of 6% on the 15,040 deaths in 2020.

It's estimated that the social and economic costs of alcohol-related harm are around £21.5 billion annually, while harm from illicit drug use costs the economy £10.7 billion.

What the Medway CDP is

In 2021, the government released the 10-Year Drug Strategy: From Harm to Hope, which sets out a long-term vison to tackle drugs in the UK. Part of that strategy was the establishment of local Combating Drugs Partnerships (CDPs).

Within Medway we have established a local Combating Drugs Partnership.

The aim of the partnership is to more effectively tackle drug-related crime, and address the harms associated with drug and problematic alcohol use in Medway.

This partnership brings together all the relevant agencies and stakeholders, including:

  • police
  • the NHS
  • public health
  • social care
  • housing services
  • criminal justice
  • commissioned and voluntary services.

What the partnership does

The focus of the Medway CDP is to encourage collaboration and remove barriers. This is so organisations can work together collectively to:

  • break drug supply chains
  • improve treatment and recovery support and engagement
  • change attitudes to the acceptability of drug use to reduce the likelihood of people starting to use drugs or alcohol in harmful ways.

The partnership has a strong leadership and oversight function. There is a Senior Responsible Owner (SRO) who monitors progress. This person reports to the national Joint Combating Drugs Unit and the Home Office.

The partnership has used local data to gain a better understanding of issues affecting drug and alcohol misuse at a national and local level.

Insight from this data through the Joint Needs Assessment (JNA), is used to identify the things we need to do to tackle the issues impacting our local community.

The purpose of this is to enable people and organisations across Medway to understand and contribute to the CDP, as we seek to reduce the harms resulting from drugs and alcohol. 

Read the executive summary of the Joint Needs Assessment

Our priorities

This work will be finalised before the end of 2023 and will be published here.

Our interim priorities include:

  • tackling county lines, organised crime and drug distribution
  • safeguarding people who are at risk of becoming involved in county lines networks
  • increasing drug treatment places and improving the quality of treatment and recovery services
  • understanding why people use drugs in Medway, what influences decisions and what can be done to change behaviours
  • embedding more living and lived experience voices in the co-design, delivery and evaluation of services, and across the partnership.

We'll also be reviewing, evaluating, and strengthening drug and alcohol treatment pathways to ensure there is continuous support for:

  • people transitioning between young people and adult services
  • people with co-occurring conditions, such as a mental illness or cognitive impairment
  • people moving between prison, hospital and community treatment services.

How we'll measure success

The National Combating Drugs Outcomes Framework provides a single approach to measure improvements and track impact. It is shaped around improving the lives of people in our communities by reducing drug use and associated challenges.

We'll measure success by:

  • reducing drug use
  • reducing drug-related crime
  • reducing drug-related deaths and harm
  • reducing drug supply
  • increasing engagement in drug treatment
  • improving drug recovery outcomes.

The commitments to be delivered by the end of 2024/25 across England are to:

  • prevent nearly 1,000 deaths, reversing the upward trend in drug deaths
  • deliver a phased expansion of treatment capacity with at least 54,500 new high-quality treatment places (20% increase)
  • contribute to the prevention of 750,000 crimes (including 140,000 neighbourhood crimes)
  • close over 2,000 county lines
  • deliver 6,400 disruptions to activities of organised criminals (20% increase)
  • significantly increase the removal of criminal assets.

This approach recognises that a long-term coproduced solution is needed.

CPDs will only be successful if local partners work together to support delivery. This requires careful consideration, open collaboration, and shared ownership. 

Medway CDP will publish a summary of the priorities and outcomes annually.