Drink and Drugs News DDN 1804 - Page 6

Cover story

Strong arm of the

LAW

It used to be that senior police , like politicians , would only speak out on drug policy from the safety of retire - ment . These days , however , serving PCCs are taking an increasingly leading role in the call for change , as DDN reports

Afew short years ago most people would probably not have

predicted that it would soon be the police who – as Release recently said – were ‘ leading the way in the debate for drug policy reform ’ ( DDN , March , page 5 ). But that ’ s exactly what seems to be happening .
The charity was responding to the latest call by a police and crime commissioner ( PCC ) to implement radical measures to cut drug-related death and crime rates – in this case West Midlands PCC David Jamieson and his plans for prescribed heroin , diverting people from the courts into treatment , and ‘ considering the benefits ’ of consumption rooms .
‘ Despite the good work being done by many , collectively our approach to drugs is failing ,’ said Jamieson , whose region sees half of all burglary , robberies and shoplifting committed by people with drug problems , at huge cost to the public purse . He intends to have as many of his plans as possible in place before he leaves office in 2020 , plans that also include training and equipping the police with naloxone and implementing safety-testing of drugs in the region ’ s night-time economy .
His call had the backing of the PCCs ’ membership body , the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners ( APPC ), and follows similar announcements from North Wales PCC Arfon Jones – whose annual report included plans for a consumption room pilot and to look at decriminalisation as most drug use ‘ is recreational and causes no harm ’ ( DDN , October 2017 , page 5 ) – and Derbyshire PCC Alan Charles . The first PCC to put his head above the parapet , however , was Durham ’ s Ron Hogg . It ’ s now over a year since Hogg announced that he ’ d asked local public health departments to look at options for introducing heroin-assisted treatment to allow people to ‘ stabilise their addiction in a controlled environment ’ ( DDN , March 2017 , page 4 ), although he ’ d been a vocal critic of government drug policy as far back as 2014 .
Initiatives such as consumption rooms , heroin-assisted treatment and drug
testing in nightclubs are no longer just backed by campaigning organisations like Release and Transform , but by august bodies such as the Royal Society for Public Health ( DDN , March , page 4 and July / August 2017 , page 4 ) who see them as part of a logical move towards a more evidence-based policy . But why is it that increasing numbers of PCCs are calling for radical reform ? The obvious answer is that it ’ s they and their officers who are witnessing the failure of current approaches on the frontline , so it ’ s little surprise that they might want to try something new .
This mood was very much in evidence at last month ’ s meeting of the Drugs , Alcohol and Justice Cross-Party Parliamentary Group , which heard from Hogg , Jamieson and Jones as well as Derbyshire PCC Hardyal Dhindsa – who also serves as the APPC ’ s alcohol and drugs lead – in a roundtable discussion on ‘ advancing an evidence-based approach to drug policy ’.
‘ It ’ s time for us all to show some leadership on this – it ’ s about us doing the right thing ,’ Hogg told the group . ‘ We cannot continue with prohibition , we ’ re just putting millions of pounds into the pockets of organised crime . It ’ s a crazy waste of money – policy has failed .’
In his 30 years as a drugs officer he ’ d seen only worsening problems , he said , and the background of constantly shrinking budgets meant that it was ever-more vital that money was spent as wisely as possible . While it was his call for heroin-assisted treatment that had unsurprisingly made the headlines , this was only ‘ one small aspect ’ of what needed to be done , he said – and one that would also help to cut out a ‘ pot of money ’ going to organised crime . ‘ We must not criminalise addicts , but those who deal ,’ he told the meeting . ‘ We need to treat drug users in a different way to how we do at the moment .’
His Towards a safer drug policy document from July last year advocates a fundamental review of the Misuse of Drugs Act , and of UK drug policy in general . The Act ’ s effectiveness has never been formally evaluated , it argues , ‘ despite
6 | drinkanddrugsnews | April 2018 www . drinkanddrugsnews . com
Cover story Strong arm of the LAW It used to be that senior police, like politicians, would only speak out on drug policy from the safety of retire - ment. These days, however, serving PCCs are taking an increasingly leading role in the call for change, as DDN reports A few short years ago most people would probably not have predicted that it would soon be the police who – as Release recently said – were ‘leading the way in the debate for drug policy reform’ (DDN, March, page 5). But that’s exactly what seems to be happening. The charity was responding to the latest call by a police and crime commis 6W"42FVVB&F6V7W&W2F7WBG'Vr&VFVBFVFB7&R&FW2( 2F266RvW7B֖FG242FfB֖W6B22f &W67&&VBW&FfW'FrVRg&FR6W'G2FG&VFVBB( 66FW&pFR&VVfG>( b67VF&2( FW7FRFRvBv&&VrFR'6V7FfVǒW"&6FG'Vw20fƖr( 6B֖W6v6R&Vv6VW2bb'W&v'&&&W&W2B6ƖgFp6֗GFVB'VRvFG'Vr&&V2BVvR67BFFRV&Ɩ2W'6RRFVG0FfR2b22276&R6R&Vf&RRVfW2ff6R##0FB66VFRG&rBWVrFRƖ6RvFRBVVFp6fWGFW7FrbG'Vw2FR&Vv( 2vBFRV6גआ26BFR&6rbFR47>( V&W'6&GFR766FbƖ6PB7&R6֗76W'22Bfw26֖"V6VVG2g&'FvW242&fW2( 2v6RV&W'B6VFVB2f"67VF&ЧBBFBFV7&֖Ɨ6F27BG'VrW6R( 2&V7&VFB6W6W2&( DD7F&W"#rvRR( 2BFW&'6&R426&W2FRf'7B42FWB2VB&fRFR&WBvWfW"v2GW&( 2&vrN( 2rfW"V"66RvrV6VBFB^( B6VB6V&Ɩ2VFFW'FVG2F@F2f"G&GV6rW&767FVBG&VFVBFrVRF( 7F&Ɨ6RFV FF7F6G&VBVf&VN( DD&6#rvRBFVv^( B&VVf67&F2bvfW&VBG'VrƖ72f"&62#BखFFfW27V6267VF&2W&767FVBG&VFVBBG'VpbG&FG'Vw6Ww2&#FW7FrvF6V'2&RvW"W7B&6VB'6vr&v6F2ƖP&VV6RBG&6f&'WB'VwW7B&FW27V62FR&66WGf"V&Ɩ0VFDD&6vRBBVǒVwW7B#rvRBv6VRFV2'B`v6fRFv&G2&RWfFV6R&6VBƖ7'WBv2BFB7&V6pV&W'2b472&R6Ɩrf"&F6&Vf&FR'fW27vW"2FBN( 2FWBFV"ff6W'2v&RvFW76rFRfW&Rb7W'&VB&6W2FPg&FƖR6N( 2ƗGFR7W'&6RFBFW֖vBvBFG'6WFrWrF2Bv2fW'V6WfFV6RB7BF( 2VWFrbFRG'Vw26BW7F6R7&72'G&ƖVF'w&Wv6V&Bg&vr֖W6BW22vV2FW&'6&R42&GFG6( 2v66W'fW20FR>( 26BG'Vw2VB( 2&VGF&RF67W76( Gf6rWfFV6R&6VB&6FG'VrƖ7( ( N( 2FRf"W2F6r6RVFW'6F2( 2N( 2&WBW2FrFP&vBFr( vrFBFRw&W( vR6B6FVRvF&&Fv^( &RW7@WGFr֖Ɩ2bVG2FFR6WG2b&v6VB7&RN( 27&v7FR`W( 2Ɩ72fVB( 23V'22G'Vw2ff6W"^( B6VVǒv'6Vr&&V2R6B@FR&6w&VBb67FFǒ6&涖r'VFvWG2VBFBBv2WfW"&RfFFBWv27VB2v6Vǒ276&RvRBv226f"W&767FV@G&VFVBFBBV7W'&6vǒFRFRVFƖW2F2v2ǒ( R67V7N( bvBVVFVBF&RFRR6B( 2BRFBvVB6VF7W@WB( BbW( vrF&v6VB7&R( vRW7BB7&֖Ɨ6RFF7G2'W@F6RvFV( RFBFRVWFr( vRVVBFG&VBG'VrW6W'2FffW&V@vFrvRFBFRVB( 2Fv&G26fW"G'VrƖ7F7VVBg&Vǒ7BV"Gf6FW2gVFVF&WfWrbFR֗7W6RbG'Vw27BBbTG'VrƖ7vVW&FR7N( 2VffV7FfVW722WfW"&VVf&ǒWfVFVBB&wVW2( FW7FPwwrG&FG'Vw6Ww26