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Delayed from decriminalisation, ‘bootcamp’ style activities provide drugs users with alternative to clandestine drug markets
Traffic deaths surged in England and Wales in 2018 as a record 100,000 people died from overdoses of opioids, benzodiazepines and heroin, according to official figures released by NHS England.
NHS England reported that the overdose death rate in England and Wales has increased from 33 per 100,000 people in 2013 to 70 deaths per 100,000 people in 2018.
A staggering increase of more than 50% was seen in traffic deaths – largely caused by the illegal driving of heroin users – while almost 3,000 people died of knife or sharp weapon homicides in 2018.
There were 40.8 homicides per 100,000 people in England and Wales in 2018, an increase of 4.8% on the previous year.
The two-year average homicide rate rose by 32.4% from 2014 to 2018.
The increase in homicides included the killings of five women in the Greater Manchester area in 2018. Four women, in the Black Country, Manchester and London were stabbed to death in 2018, bringing the total of women killed with a knife or sharp instrument in the UK in the last decade to 289.
Across the UK, 13 people died as a result of being hit by a car in 2018, an increase of 1% on the previous year. In the period 1999 to 2018, the road death toll had fluctuated from a high of about 4,000 deaths a year to a low of 1,500, with a cyclical increase emerging from 2013 to 2017, when that had risen to more than 5,200.
Suicides in England and Wales increased by 8% between 2017 and 2018, with a total of 63,224 suicides in 2018.
“2017 was the year that all eyes were on England and Wales for a period of legalisation and before that the debate was about tackling the devastating harms of illegal drug markets,” said Anna Gilmore, professor of criminology at UCL.
“Our fear was for another step into the dark world of drugs, public crime and deaths.”
However, not far from London, in the Suffolk town of Sudbury, the story is different.
Inspired by the Notting Hill Carnival, the bootcamp-style rehabilitation services – illegal drug markets and bootcamps – are bringing together a broad range of approaches, including addiction to other substances, other types of use, social services and psychoactive substances research.
Research shows these holistic treatment services are proven to give people their lives back and reduce the overall risks they face, but the services need more support and continuity to improve the chances of success.
The bootcamp and recovery services were founded last year in Sudbury, on the shores of the South Downs, by Adam Winstock, the former chief executive of Whitehall’s Office for Drugs Strategy, and Dr Ian Young, the former deputy director of the National Drugs Intelligence Centre.
Outdoor workshops in the park feature yoga, art, music and literature, and attendee must complete 12 months of treatment, leave their addictions behind and live a balanced life – without drugs or alcohol.
The new service is proving successful and has been credited with increasing evidence of positive outcomes for people with substance abuse problems.
The service consists of education programmes, prevention events and one-to-one recovery programmes.
There are already two other similar services – the former prison rehabilitation model operated by the College of Rehabilitation Sciences, and the youth-led programme and equipment financed by Suffolk county council.
• This article was amended on 3 February 2019 to make clear that at least 700 murders a year were carried out with a knife or sharp weapon, in England and Wales in 2018.