Agenda item

Leeds Drug & Alcohol Strategy and Action Plan

To receive a report from the Director of Public Health which seeks the views of the Scrutiny Board on the draft Leeds Drug & Alcohol Strategy 2024-2027 in terms of the strategy vision and priorities/outcomes.


The Director of Public Health submitted a report setting out the current position and planned processes for refreshing and updating the Leeds Drug & Alcohol Strategy and Action Plan.  The report also sought the Scrutiny Board’s views on the proposed approach to refreshing the drug and alcohol strategy and on the draft 2024-27 strategy vision and priorities/outcomes.


The following were in attendance:


·  Councillor Salma Arif, Executive Member for Adults Social Care, Public Health and Active Lifestyles.

·  Caroline Baria, Director of Adults and Health.

·  Victoria Eaton, Director of Public Health.

·  Anna Frearson, Chief Officer - Consultant Public Health.

·  Magdalena Boo, Head of Public Health.

·  Dan Burn, Health Improvement Principal, Public Health.

·  Andy Maddison, Yorkshire & Humber Programme Manager (Substance Misuse), Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, DHSC.

·  Nick Rank, Assistant Director, Forward Leeds.


The Executive Member for Public Health and Active Lifestyles gave a brief introduction and then handed over to the Chief Officer – Consultant Public Health and other invited contributors to highlight key aspects of the report.  In summary, the following points were made:


Ø  In December 2021, the Government published its ten-year Drug Strategy ‘From Harm to Hope’, followed by delivery guidance in June 2022 that set out a series of key actions and timescales, which included forming a local combatting drugs partnership and creating a local Drug Strategy and delivery plan.  However, at that stage Leeds already had a partnership (Leeds Drug & Alcohol Partnership Board) and an existing Leeds Drug & Alcohol Strategy and Action Plan covering the period 2019-2024.


Ø  The Leeds Drug and Alcohol Partnership (LDAP) Board continues to provide strong strategic leadership locally and supports effective partnership working around drugs and alcohol.


Ø  With the existing Strategy due to expire this year, the proposed refresh gives the city and its strategic partners ownership of the strategic priorities and the direction of travel for Leeds on drug and alcohol issues, while also reflecting national priorities.


Ø  The LDAP Board has benefited from new allocations of new increased funds for drug and alcohol treatment and recovery from the Universal Grant 2021/2 and the Supplemental Substance Misuse Treatment and Recovery Grant (SSMTRG) 2022-2025.


Ø  The refreshed draft Strategy and Action Plan is being reviewed by all the sub-groups of the LDAP Board: Co-occurring Mental Health Alcohol and Drugs; Children and Young People; Criminal Justice (via Reducing Reoffending Board); Performance and Intelligence; Social Marketing Planning; Healthcare Sub-group.


Ø  There is robust scrutiny, both nationally and locally, with the provision in Leeds considered as good practice by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).  The Leeds Strategy also mirrors national expectations.


Ø  Forward Leeds, as the main provider, has also been rated as “Outstanding” overall by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).  However, it aims to enhance and expand the delivery of its services even further, with links to the ‘Inclusive Recovery Cities’ programme which aims to promote visible recovery, challenges stigmatising and discriminatory attitudes and champions multiple pathways to addiction recovery.


During the Board’s discussions on this matter, the following issues were also raised:


·  Informing alcohol licensing decisions – The Board discussed commercial determinants of health and the negative impacts linked to the saturation of licensed premises.  It was acknowledged that as licensing authority, the Council can publish a Cumulative Impact Assessment to help limit the number or types of licence applications granted where there is evidence showing that the number or density of premises in an area is having a cumulative impact and leading to problems which are undermining the licensing objectives, one of which includes the protection of children from harm.  While Members were advised that local processes do involve engagement with Public Health, there was shared frustration that health is not regarded as one of the key licencing objectives nationally.

·  Addressing drugs and alcohol within one strategy – The Board discussed the key differences in dealing with alcohol and drug issues and while acknowledging that the Strategy was primarily addressing substance misuse, Members felt that having a clear narrative on profiles and cohorts was warranted as part of the revised version of the Strategy.

·  Utilising the Third Sector to help target areas of need – Members sought assurance that services were being targeted in areas of need, which primarily involved deprived areas.  Linked to this, the Board also discussed the value of working with the third sector as trusted intermediaries in deprived communities. 

·  Alcohol related harms and social norms – The Board discussed the use of language and attitudes associated with drinking alcohol and how this has become a social norm despite the recognised risks.  While regarded as a commercial determinant of health, it was noted that the alcohol industry maintains a focus on individual responsibility.

·  Cannabis use – Linked to a previous briefing paper provided to the Board, Members made reference to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) evidence review on cannabis, which was dated 2008, as it was felt that more recent research was needed. Further information was also sought surrounding the prescribing policy linked to the medicinal use of cannabis.

·  Working collaboratively to reduce offending associated with drugs – The Board discussed the wider community safety impacts and sought assurance that there is collaborative working, particularly with West Yorkshire Police, to reduce offending and antisocial behaviour associated with drugs.

·  Prevention work in schools - Members sought further information surrounding the targeted work in schools aimed at ensuring that children and young people are informed about the potential harms of drugs and alcohol.

·  Prison continuity of care – The Board discussed the importance of improving continuity of care for those with drug and alcohol issues going into, and coming out of, prison.

·  Affected others – Members felt it would be helpful for the Strategy to acknowledge the impacts felt more broadly by affected family members and friends too, which could be captured through case studies.

·  The reducing trend of youth drinking – While the Board was advised that the current data is indicating a decline in youth drinking, this may not necessarily be the visible experience in some communities and therefore it would be helpful to hear the views of Elected Members too.

·  Forward Leeds work with Muslim communities and faith communities – Members were advised that through its community engagement strategy, Forward Leeds was working with different communities but acknowledged that further work was needed to ensure that the service user population is more representative.

·  Young people leaving care – Members were advised that as part of its 2024-25 plan, Forward Leeds will be recruiting a Young Person Care Leaver Co-ordinator to work within the young person’s team as this was recognised as a key need.

·  Mutual aid  – Members discussed the benefits of individuals being signposted to drug and alcohol mutual aid group meetings, such as Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous and/or Smart Recovery.  Members requested further information regarding the location of existing mutual aid groups and details on how to set up a new group.

·  Tackling the issue of vaping – In response to Members’ concerns, the Chair confirmed that the Children and Families Scrutiny Board was continuing to lead on this issue.

·  Sharing data linked to relevant Key Performance Indicators – Having noted that the LDAP Board will report on the progress towards achieving strategic outcomes to the Health and Wellbeing Board, a request was made for the relevant KPI data to also be shared with Scrutiny Board Members.


The Chair acknowledged the positive work being undertaken by the Leeds Drug and Alcohol Partnership Board and thanked everyone for their valuable contribution to the Board’s discussion.



(a)  That the contents of the report be noted.

(b)  That Members comments and requests for information, as reflected above, are noted and considered as part of the refresh of the Leeds Drug and Alcohol Strategy and Action Plan.


Supporting documents: