IT is estimated that there are more than 1,100 people addicted to crack cocaine in Swindon and the town has higher rates of alcohol-related hospital submissions than the national average.

The figures comes ahead of a cabinet meeting on Wednesday in which a special plan to tackle drug and alcohol abuse looks likely to be approved by councillors.

The Health and Wellbeing Board back in December set out the Swindon Strategy to reduce substance misuse 2017 to 2022. It recommended that particular focus be placed on prevention and early intervention, particularly with young people and their families, and sought to promote sustained recovery for those dependent on substances.

It is hoped that, as a result, the town will see a reduction in drug-related crime and anti-social behaviour.

A spokesman for Swindon Borough Council said: “The vision for Swindon is to prevent the harms caused by drugs and alcohol to individuals, children, young people, families and communities, by encouraging healthy choices, promoting recovery and reducing crime. We will strive for a Swindon free from the harms caused by substance misuse.”

The move has received cross-party support and has been backed by Councillor Stan Pajak, the leader of the Liberal Democrat Group.

Coun Pajak, who has long called for action to be taken to combat substance misuse, in October last year said that Swindon was “in the middle of a drugs crisis” and pleaded for solutions to be found.

Speaking yesterday, he said: “Drugs often pose as sources of excitement for people and it can be difficult to remove that element. Drug use is a very serious problem that can lead to all sorts of issues, and I think it’s good that we are looking at ways of targeting help toward people who need it.”

As of December 2017, it was estimated that Swindon has 1,140 opiate and or crack cocaine users, 577 of whom are receiving treatment. Just over 500 are estimated to be injecting drug users.

The purpose of the council’s strategy is to set out the vision for tackling substance misuse; to identify the key priorities for reducing the impact of drug use and to engage local partners and communities to ensure local needs are met.

A Health and Wellbeing Board report states: “We have higher rates of alcohol related hospital admissions in Swindon than the national average and this has risen since 2014.

“Cannabis and alcohol are the two substances most commonly misused by the under 18s. However, hospital admission for substance misuse for 15 -24 year olds has increased in Swindon over the past three years.”