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Brunstrom wants drug gangs action
date: 14-March-2006
source : BBC NEWS
editorial comment editorial comment
A thinking cop versus a lobbyist..... Gee, Mr Raines, you really want to keep your job, don't you?

The chief constable of North Wales Police has said the UK's policy of criminalising drugs has "caused an explosion in organised crime".

Richard Brunstrom told BBC Wales' Week In Week Out that making certain drugs illegal has meant control and supply has been handed over to criminal gangs.

Mr Brunstrom called for a radical review of UK drug policy.

But David Raynes from the National Drug Prevention Alliance said most people did not want drugs legalised.

'Devastatingly damaging'

Mr Brunstrom told the programme that he had no problem with having to police the current drug laws, but said a war on drugs was unwinnable.

"We have created an environment that can be exploited by organised crime, and (the criminals) are doing so," said Mr Brunstrom.

Cannabis is the illegal drug with most UK users

"Literally, billions of pounds a year in the UK alone is being gathered by organised crime from drug addicts, every single penny of it illegal.

"We have caused an explosion in organised crime and in gun crime and the consequences of that flow through our entire society - it has been a really devastatingly damaging policy."

He added that society stigmatising drug addicts as "lower than low" fuelled the UK's drugs problem still further.

"You are some form of sub-human, you are somebody to be avoided at all costs, to be alienated and excluded and expelled from society, shunned, despised, but that goes with the territory, if you have a criminal-based regime," he said.

If possession was no longer a criminal offence there would be no restraining influence whatsoever

David Raynes, National Drug Prevention Alliance

"Half of all stealing is caused directly to support a drugs habit.

"So there's an enormous tidal wave of damage caused not just by drugs but specifically by the fact that they are illegal. It's nonsense placed upon nonsense."

He said that a wider debate was needed to find solutions with leadership from senior people in public agencies.

"I think there is an increasing recognition that what we have been doing simply doesn't work," he added.

"And I think (there is) an increasing recognition that we have been playing into the hands of the drugs cartels, we have been making their money for them - that we have been foolish to do so."

'Sadness of situation'

Mr Brunstrom's call for drug use to be tackled differently was supported by Martin Blakeborough who runs the Kaleidoscope project helping addicts in Newport.

He told Week in Week Out: "I think the sadness of the situation at the moment is we are just looking at it as a criminal justice issue and not as a health issue."

But David Raynes from the National Drug Prevention Alliance - an organisation which campaigns for anti-drug policies - said calls to liberalise drugs laws were "utter nonsense" adding that "most of the population don't want drugs legalised".

He said: "If possession was no longer a criminal offence...there would be no restraining influence whatsoever. This infectious disease for society would spread and spread.

"We cannot do away with the criminal justice system playing some part in the overall system of the way we treat drugs because it's the criminal justice system that first persuades and gets people into treatment.

"There is nothing else that catches them."

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