Richard Brunstrom, the Chief Constable of North Wales, delivers a report today to his Police Authority, describing the current UK drug laws as “immoral” and recommending that all drugs be legalized.
His report says that illegal drugs are cheaper and more plentiful than ever, and that drug-related crime is also at an all-time high. It goes on: “If policy on drugs is in future to be pragmatic not moralistic, driven by ethics not dogma, then the current prohibitionist stance will have to be swept away as both unworkable and immoral, to be replaced with an evidence-based unified system (specifically including tobacco and alcohol) aimed at minimisation of harms to society.” He finds it especially hypocritical that tobacco and alcohol are not classified as “dangerous drugs”.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown – ready to announce the legalization of all drugs?
Of course, the Police Authority isn’t going to take up his recommendations. And it won’t find sympathy in the government either. At this year’s Labour Party Conference, prime minister Gordon Brown announced that the “war on drugs” was going to step up a gear, and declared: “We will send out a clear message that drugs are never going to be decriminalised.”
But there is sympathy for Brunstrom’s position in the Labour Party. Former Home Secretary John Reid has admitted that prohibition of drugs doesn’t work, and Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell agrees, saying that “it drives the activity underground.”
The Chief Constable is to urge the Police Authority to raise these issues with Westminster and the Welsh Assembly. And, although the authority are extremely unlikely to seriously consider his recommendations, such a high-ranking police officer lending his voice to these arguments gives them a prominence that’s hard to ignore.
He can’t be dismissed as eccentric or a “kook”. John Reid and Tessa Jowell, both government ministers, have voiced similar opinions. And the former Chief Inspector of Prisons, Lord Rambotham – and Scotland’s drug czar, Tom Wood – are also more or less on his side. And these are people who can’t just be ignored. Legalization of drugs has been dismissed for years as a crazy idea. Now, the powers that be have to admit that it isn’t such a mad idea after all.