Mr Johnson unveiled a plan to wipe out trafficking rings and help drug addicts get rid of drugs over the next decade.
It aims to discourage the use of recreational drugs by making it socially unacceptable, to reduce demand, to cut supply by strangling networks and to help 3,000 registered drug addicts to detoxify themselves.
The plan pursues a “public health” approach, involving education, social assistance and the charitable sector, to help with prevention and rehabilitation.
Mr Johnson said: “Half of the crime of acquisition in this country, burglary, robbery, is caused by drugs.
“The 300,000 people who are the biggest problem, put them in rehab.
“Of course you have to be tough on crime, but their problems won’t be solved by just hitting them. You have to stop the gangs as well.”
Yet many of the goals, and even the wording, have vivid echoes of Mr. Blair’s plan. In a foreword to his strategy, Mr Johnson wrote: “We must break the cycle of violence and abuse that plagues so many communities.”
In 1998 Mr Blair, then Labor Prime Minister, wrote in his foreword to his own 10-year drugs strategy, titled
Tackling Drugs to Build a Better Britain: “If we could break the vicious cycle of drugs and life-destroying crime once and for all.
Mr Blair unveiled the same goals of helping “young people resist drug use”, empowering “people with drug problems to overcome them” and “stifle the supply of illegal drugs” in our streets.
Mr Blair’s strategy also sought a common approach to tackle the problem with other agencies, parents, teachers and community groups rather than just law enforcement.
However, his plan was unsuccessful and drug use continued to skyrocket.
In 1995, the number of deaths attributable to drug abuse in England and Wales was 1,805.
In 2020, 4,561 drug-related deaths were recorded, 3.8% more than in 2019.
Mr Blair declined to comment on the success of his plan or the similarities to Mr Johnson’s.
A spokeswoman for the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change pointed to a blog post by Harvey Redgrave, its senior home affairs policy adviser, on Mr Johnson’s strategy. Harvey said the new campaign “has been pre-briefed in colloquial language” and “it’s mostly about continuing a list of things that are already happening.”
Former detective Neil Woods is part of the UK Law Enforcement Action Partnership, which works for drug policy reform.
He thinks Mr Johnson’s plans to “toughen up” are worrisome.
He said, “Tough on crime and the causes of crime, like Blair said.” We should surely learn from the past.
PM’s new strategy has similar goals … and uses similar words
BORIS JOHNSON 2021: “Then we must break the cycle of violence and abuse that is tearing so many communities apart.”
TONY BLAIR 1998: “If we could break the vicious cycle of drugs and life-destroying crime once and for all.”
JOHNSON: “We’re going to have to do more to fight illegal drugs.”
BLAIR: “I am determined to tackle the drug problem.” JOHNSON: “That’s the purpose of this strategy, a new approach to the problem.”
BLAIR: “Put in place a comprehensive strategy, tackling the problem again. “
JOHNSON: “So this plan is different. A plan that treats drug abuse not just as a law enforcement problem, but as a societal problem that all governments face. “
BLAIR: “It’s for teachers, parents, community groups, those who work in the field and anyone who cares about the future of our society. We owe it to our children to find an imaginative solution and create the best. Britain they deserve. “