The Parliamentary Information Office of the Parliamentary Yearbook is currently gathering news items for major features on obesity, responsible drinking, smoking cessation and drug misuse in the next edition.
On 17 October 2011, the Home Office launched an advertising campaign to encourage young people to ‘talk to FRANK’. FRANK (www.talktofrank.com) was set up in 2003 as a means of offering accurate and impartial information to young people about the harm that drugs can cause.
It is claimed that the service has been well received, with 80 per cent of young people aware of its existence and 68 per cent reporting that they would turn to it for advice.
FRANK is also there to help adults who may want to access the service for their own benefit, to help their children if they are using drugs or to help someone else who they know is at risk of drug misuse.
Home Office Minster Lord Henley said “There are so many ways for young people to get information on drugs: through their friends, the internet, TV programmes, films and song lyrics that knowing what’s true and where the dangers lie can be difficult. It is important that young people know that FRANK will always give them free and accurate information and confidential advice whenever they need it.”
FRANK was introduced to thousands of students across the UK back in 2010, when the National Union of Students responded to the campaign launched by James Brokenshire, Minister for Crime Prevention, to shine a spotlight on ‘legal highs’ — substances that are not controlled by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 but which are taken to achieve an altered state of mind.
(The legal position regarding such drugs is that they are illegal to sell, supply or advertise for human consumption.)
James Brokenshire stated the government’s position on ‘legal highs’: “We want to send a clear message to anyone tempted to try a new drug, that just because something is advertised as ‘legal’ does not mean it is safe and it may already be banned. There is increasing evidence that substances sold as ‘legal highs’ often contain harmful illegal drugs.”
Ben Whittaker, National Union of Students, recognised the union’s role as an accessible and student-friendly conduit for information and guidance on the dangers of ‘legal highs’ and encouraged students with drugs concerns to approach the student’s union or FRANK.
The high-quality, impartial information provided by FRANK has been operating continuously since May 2003, and it is estimated that millions of people access the service every year. It is compatible with one of the key tenets of the government’s revised drug strategy, introduced on 8 December 2010, in that it places more responsibility on individuals to seek help for their drug problems and overcome dependency.
The advertising campaign launched in October 2011 will increase widespread awareness of FRANK among the 11–18 year-old group, using the medium of youth radio stations and popular websites. These advertisements are designed to pose questions about drug misuse, prompting teenagers to ask themselves what they know about the risks of drug abuse and pointing them in FRANK’s direction as a reliable and authoritative source of information.
The adverts are scheduled to run until the New Year (2012) and the Parliamentary Information Office of the Parliamentary Yearbook will feature the effect they have as this becomes evident.
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