Substance misuse policy must embrace harm-reduction

01 Apr 2021

We believe that we must support people as they are, not as we wish they would be.

The Wallich has a long-standing commitment to the principle of harm reduction, particularly when it comes to substance misuse or other harmful behaviours.

We would like to see the next Welsh Government and other public bodies take a harm reduction approach to support, as a key pillar in rebuilding services following the coronavirus pandemic.

What this means in practice is working with police, probation, and community safety teams to sensitively manage substance misuse and its related harms to society.


We should not rush to criminalise people who are in need of support to get sober.

As with the wider issue of homelessness, we are strongly supportive of an approach to substance misuse as a public health issue, rather than simply a problem to be solved by the criminal justice system.

We would like to see the pilot of Enhanced Harm Reduction Centres in Wales, to provide a safe, clean space for people to use substances under supervision, exchange used needles and other paraphernalia, and get advice and support.

International evidence suggests this could dramatically decrease the risks of overdoses and blood-borne viruses and reduce the number of avoidable drug-related deaths.

We call on the next Welsh Government to work closely with the newly elected Police and Crime Commissioners, as well as the UK Government, to explore how this could be piloted in Wales.

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