Crime related to substance misuse and alcohol-related deaths have risen in Havering, a council report says.

Cabinet members approved a strategy to combat substance misuse with a multi-pronged approach, which will target drug supply lines and prioritise a “world-class” treatment service. 

Stark figures put before cabinet on Wednesday (March 13) revealed a bleak situation in the east London borough. 

Council data shows that crime rates related to substance misuse had tripled between 2016 and 2022, from 388 to 1,084.   

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There were 938 drug possession crimes and 146 drug trafficking offences reported in 2022 alone. 

Alcohol-related deaths were similarly on the rise, with 57 of every 100,000 deaths in 2020 linked to the substance. 

That was notably higher than the London average of 51. 

The new plan, approved at the March meeting, treats addiction as a chronic health condition and focuses on providing “long-term” solutions. 

Councillor Gillian Ford, deputy council leader and cabinet member for adults and wellbeing, said the authority would work to “tackle the stigma” around addiction and provide support to impacted families. 

Across 2021, just 18 per cent of people known to be dependent on alcohol contacted treatment services. 

Out of 364 adults who accessed treatment for the first time in 2020, 76 – or 21pc – were parents or adults living with children. 

The strategy has been designed in collaboration with the Metropolitan Police, the volunteer sector, the NHS, children’s services and others.  

While the police work to disrupt drug gangs and bring dealers to justice, children’s services and schools would raise awareness of the dangers of drug misuse to prevent future cases. 

Substance abuse is linked heavily with violent crime, domestic violence and theft, while more than a fifth of drug users in Havering are between the ages of 16 and 24. 

On top of improving the quality of help, the strategy would also boost opportunities for those being treated, including fixed accommodation and better chances to volunteer and find employment. 

Concern was raised by Conservative councillor Keith Prince, leader of the principal opposition, that this would put more of a strain on volunteers. 

However, Cllr Ford said the role of volunteers would not meaningfully change and they would continue to direct people in need of treatment towards council services. 

The scheme will be supported by an annual investment of £1.4million from a public health grant and a three-year supplementary grant from the government, from 2022 until 2025, that totals just shy of £1m. 

As it is a multi-agency approach, Cllr Ford said it would not be bankrolled exclusively by the council, which is facing a gauntlet of financial troubles. 

In late February, the authority accepted a £54m loan from the government after it faced effective bankruptcy.