Drug misuse on rise in Enfield but ‘progress’ made in tackling the issue

Local health leaders remain positive with “brilliant” work being done to tackle drug addiction in Enfield, reports Grace Howarth, Local Democracy Reporter

Drug paraphernalia
Drug paraphernalia (credit Jonathan Gonzalez via Unsplash

Illegal drug use is on the rise in Enfield – but with increasing numbers also receiving treatment for their addiction.

Enfield Council’s public health team presented data gathered by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) on the levels of opiate and crack use (OCUs) across the borough during a meeting at Enfield Civic Centre on Wednesday (28th February).

They said it showed a “significant increase” in OCUs between 2016/17 and 2019/20 in Enfield and that the increase was found “across all age groups”. 

OHID provides funding to local authorities, through central government, to tackle and manage drug issues and also sets treatment targets.

In September 2023 the government organisation published London-wide data to assess progress made among authorities, with Enfield listed as one of only eight in London to be rated ‘green’ in terms of increasing treatment numbers.

While it showed Enfield had 1,146 adults in treatment as of last year, for 2024/25 the borough’s target will be 1,315. 

In terms of funding, in 2022/23 the OHID provided Enfield £457,127, which rose to £542,318 for 2023/24 and is due to rise to £830,017 in 2024/25. However, it is not known if further funding will be available beyond March 2025.

The council is therefore working on developing partnerships to tackle drug misuse in the borough, while utilising potentially time-limited funding to increase treatment provision. 

In 2022, the council helped form the Combating Drug and Alcohol Partnership (CDAP). This is chaired by Enfield’s director of public health, Duduzile Sher Arami, who was present at Wednesday’s meeting, and vice-chaired by detective superintendent Jess Ruddell of the Metropolitan Police.

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The key priority for the group is treatment and care, which involves improving delivery of prevention, early intervention, and treatment and recovery support across the borough, along with improving referral pathways.

The second priority revolves around governance, which involves improving the oversight of audit outcomes and ensuring a multi-agency response to complex cases. 

The third is about helping individuals going through the criminal justice system. This includes improving engagement with substance misuse treatment services for people due to be released, along with offenders dependent on alcohol and or drugs. 

The team says it has made a lot of progress, especially in continuity of care, which refers to the proportion of prison leavers who at the time of release were referred and subsequently started community-based treatment. 

This rate went from 12% in August 2022 to 32% in August 2023 and referrals have “almost doubled” compared to January 2023.

Speaking on the work done by CDAP, Alev Cazimoglu, cabinet member for health and social care, said the news was “good” and “welcome”. She praised the government’s ‘Harm to Hope’ strategy, their plan to reduce drug use, crime and improve lives, which supports funding for programmes like CDAP. 

Cllr Cazimoglu said: “Sadly it [funding] does only go up to 2025, so all the learning and all the planning is at risk, we don’t know what’s going to happen beyond 2025. 

“I just want to recognise the work of CDAP, which is spearheading all of this; it’s a brilliant partnership of the council, police, public health teams, schools and the criminal justice system. 

“It really looks at how this money is going to be spent and everyone is involved and not working in a silo. 

“I’ve been to a meeting, it’s a brilliant partnership, and I wanted to tell the committee what a brilliant job I think they’re doing. Coming together properly to look at what outcome they’re going to achieve the best result.”

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