TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER'S BROADCAST OF FRIDAY 18 FEBRUARY 2000
Being Prime Minister is a difficult job but nothing's more difficult than being a parent.
And there are fewer bigger worries when you are a parent than drugs. No matter how hard you try to bring your children up well, no matter how sensible and decent they are, we all of us worry.
What if they fall in with wrong crowd? What if my kids get offered ecstasy at a party or a club? What if someone even offers them drugs at school?
Lethal drugs with lethal consequences. Hard drugs that lead to addiction. Often after starting from so called softer drugs. These drugs ruin lives. They replace hope with despair, they tear families apart. They shatter communities.
And they fuel, of course, we all know that, so much of our crime. It is estimated that at least half of all the property crime in this country is linked in some way to drugs.
And it isn't just inner-city housing estates which are prey to drugs.
There's not a community, from here in the centre of London to the most remote parts of our countryside, which is free from it. Not a parent - rich or poor - that doesn't worry. Not a family that is immune to the threat.
So not just as a Prime Minister, as a parent too, we want to support hard working families and make sure that we engage in a real battle to combat the scourge of drugs in our society.
We all know there's no single, simple solution. What's needed is a raft of co-ordinated measures to tackle this modern menace.
Choking off the supply of drugs. Catching and punishing drug dealers. Breaking the link between drugs and crime. Treating properly those hooked on drugs. Educating our children about the dangers.
Giving families every possible support.
New laws are the crucial first step.
We're taking new powers to test criminals for drugs.
Mandatory testing of all prisoners.
New powers to ensure convicted drug offenders are referred for treatment.
New seven year minimum sentences for drug dealers.
But we have to do more. Because no matter how effectively the police, or courts or customs operate, they can't win this war on their own. We've all got to play our part.
That's what's behind the successful Metropolitan Police Rat on a Rat phone-line here in London and the other Crime Stoppers campaigns that are engaging members of the public in this battle too.
Just to give you a couple of examples, in one case a grandmother got suspicious about the people next door. From her call to the confidential number, the police were able to bust a £1 million drugs factory.
Or in another, vital information provided the missing details the police needed for a £3 million heroin seizure. Just two telephone calls resulting in that.
In just two weeks calls to the London Rat on a Rat scheme increased from 70 to 2,000. Seven hundred drug dealers and users have been arrested since the scheme began.
Initiatives like this are working successfully right across the country. So we have to do more. Not just in relations to courts involving the members of the public but earlier this week I chaired a meeting here in the Cabinet room with key Ministers - Jack Straw, Mo Mowlam and the person in charge of our drugs strategy - the former chief constable Keith Hellawell, police and customs, where a number of specific concrete ideas were presented which we can take forward.
There's one immediate step that I can announce - a joint Health and Home Office plan to recruit more than 300 extra specialist drug counsellors who can deal properly and effectively with those referred by the Police for treatment. Some of these people want to get off drugs but unless they get the treatment, they don't get the chance. If we get young offenders off drugs, there'll be far more chance stopping them reoffending. Since they're often offending to feed the habit. The adverts for these new posts will go out in the next few days.
And I am also going to be talking with the Police and the education department this week about whether we can extend the Rat on a Rat scheme to schools. Giving a dedicated number so that pupils can call in confidence if they see someone peddling drugs near their school. Young children are targeted. We have to engage them too in the fight against this evil world-wide trade.
I also want to hit the drug dealers harder. Making sure they don't keep the profits they've made off the misery of others. Often what will happen is that we have someone with a massive amount of money and assets with no visible means of support and yet proving how they came by this money is difficult.
One known drug dealer has assets worth £450 million, with no obvious explanation as to where this sum of money came from. So we want to be more rigorous too in forcing people in circumstances where they have huge sums of money and no visible signs of support to prove where it came from. And to take it off them if they can't.
Raising a family is a daunting business. We all know that who are parents. Our task as a government is to try and make that the job that bit easier, to remove the obstacles, to tackle the concerns.
It is unrealistic to imagine we can create a world without drugs. But we can, and we must, do more to protect our young people.
There were signs this week that the strategy we're just beginning is having an effect - seizures of drugs up some 8% in year 1998, for which we have figures. We are also catching and punishing more drug dealers now. But there's a long way to go.
If we hold our nerve, we carry on with the strategy, tougher punishment, better education, better treatment, better co-ordination across government then I am convinced we can get there. Thank you.