Politicians and media united in opposing “smarter” drugs policy

There has been much coverage recently regarding the comments from the UK Drug Policy Commission who have suggested that “smarter” drugs policies are required. The crux is that there is currently too much focus on seizure and arrests and not enough focus on harm reduction.

The reporting of this subject from the Daily Mail however is instructive. They include the details of what the commission suggests but then there are quotes from three politicians. Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith said allowing police to decide which neighbourhoods most needed support, would leave those areas where drugs were tolerated ‘written off’:

“It follows like night follows day that the worst elements of people then arrive in that community and deal.”

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said:

“I don’t want to see any short-cuts in the battle against organised crime and drug dealing. I certainly don’t want to see class-A drug dealers getting away with it. We need properly policed borders, tough action against dealers and a smarter approach to rehab.”

Home Office Minister Alan Campbell said:

“Tough enforcement is a fundamental part of our drug strategy, and the police continue to make real progress in tackling the supply of illegal drugs and reducing the harm they cause.”

Three politicians are quoted, two Conservative, one Labour. Normally the reason to get quotes from two or three politicians is to ensure balance but in this case they all agree with each other. There are senior politicians including Chris Huhne who broadly agree with the described approach and it is telling that none of them had been approached by the Mail.

Organisations such as Transform Drugs Policy Foundation argue that meaningful harm reduction can only be achieved if we move outside a framework that criminalises what could be considered a public health problem. Perhaps the Mail might consider approaching an organisation like this to ensure a bit more balance next time.

Mark Thompson blogs at markreckons.blogspot.com

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