Leaders reject suggestion that class A drugs should be available on NHS (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
Leaders reject suggestion that class A drugs should be available on NHS
Police and council chiefs in West Yorkshire have rejected claims by a top officer that the war on drugs has failed.
Mike Barton, the Chief Constable of Durham, says decriminalisation of hard drugs is now the best way to wrestle power away from criminal gangs.
Mr Barton, who is the national intelligence leader for the Association of Chief Police Officers, also suggested the NHS should supply class A drugs such as heroin and cocaine to addicts.
Writing in a national newspaper, he said an alternative route of supply to users would cut off gangs’ income stream. “If an addict were able to access drugs via the NHS or some similar organisation, then they would not have to go out and buy illegal drugs.
“Drugs should be controlled. They should not, of course, be freely available.
“Addiction to anything – drugs, alcohol, gambling – is not good, but outright prohibition hands revenue streams to villains.”
He argued that pushers had made billions of pounds from adulterated drugs, transforming them into local folk heroes for young people.
“Decriminalising their commodity will immediately cut off their income stream and destroy their power,” he said.
“Making drugs legal would tackle the supply chain much more effectively and much more economically than we can currently manage.”
But Bradford Council’s deputy leader Councillor Imran Hussain, who is responsible for safer communities, said: “To suggest that we have completely lost the war on drugs is not something I can accept.
“There is a journey to travel in terms of tackling crime, and in particular its root causes, like drugs. We need to find new ways of tackling these issues, and I don’t believe this is the right one.
“It’s a complex area and we need to continue to do everything to tackle it, and there are instances, here in Bradford, where we have done so successfully.”
Jon Christopher, chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said: “I’m sure Mr Barton won’t be alone in his views, but I think we are a long way from getting in a situation like this.
“What we need to get the situation sorted is more resources. We know where the dealers are and where the drugs are coming from, and we need to invest in that.
“These comments are almost admitting defeat, and we should never admit defeat to these people.
“We are probably losing the fight, but we are still in there getting results, and the more resources we have the more the results will increase.”
Mr Barton said people who sold drugs to others were criminals, and should be tackled, but addicts needed to be treated.