Johnson defends Government drugs policy

The Home Secretary defended the Government’s drugs policy today in an attempt to regain the initiative following the controversy over the sacking of Prof. Nutt.

Last Thursday Left Foot Forward called on the Government to heed the advice of Professor Nutt, whose sacking on Friday dominated the weekend news agenda. Alan Johnson, however, brushed off the ensuing furore today by insisting drug use was at an all-time low and cannabis use was in decline.

Speaking at an RSA event on Security in the 21st Century the Home Secretary said:

“The use of drugs is at an historic low – though we’ve only been counting since 1996. We have had some success, these figures are from the British Crime Survey.

“No Government has ever presided over a decrease in crime, but we have seen a 48 per cent reduction in violent crime.

“We have more people undergoing drug treatment and rehabilitation as part of their sentence. On cannabis, cannabis use has declined over the past five years. We’re having success by tackling crime and the causes of crime.”

On the issue of terrorism, and the Tories’ belief that the Human Rights Act is compromising the Government’s ability to deal with the threat, he added:

“In the five months I’ve been Home Secretary I haven’t seen a single case in which the Human Rights Act has impeded us, I can’t think of any circumstances in which it will – if anything, the Tory plans could hinder us.”

3 Responses to “Johnson defends Government drugs policy”

  1. Alan W

    That Alan Johnson was never going to give the time of day to Professor Nutt’s sensible comments was always a given. The government is firmly committed to the idiocy of demonising all drugs unconditionally, for reasons that have everything to do with political cowardice in the face of tabloid scaremongering, and nothing whatsoever to do with evidence.

    Nonetheless, I was somewhat surprised by just how inept Johnson’s handling of the incident has been. After all, Nutt was essentially just reiterating the advice given by his committee at the time of the decision to upgrade cannabis. The government simply ignored him then and had they ignored him this time this fairly minor story would almost certainly have disappeared by now.

    Instead Johnson demonstrated the political instincts of a petulant baboon, throwing a tantrum and creating a crisis for himself out of nothing. As someone who once considered him a potential Labour Leader, I’m just glad I didn’t get what I wished for.

  2. Niklas Smith

    “…cannibis use was in decline.”

    Yes, a decline that started when it was downgraded to Class C. That was perhaps the only successful policy intervention in reducing cannibis use. And now Mr Johnson thinks it should be reversed.

    Oh dear….

  3. Roger

    So if the British Crime Survey indicates a 48% drop in violent crime over the same period that cannabis possession was downgraded to class C might that not suggest that this change in policy made some contribution to the decline?

    However questionable Gordon’s judgement has been in other respects moving AJ from Health to the Home Office was a clear act of genius as he only needs another one or two of these crises to completely discredit him as a political rival – and Johnson’s accepting it when he could have pulled an Alastair Darling and refused to move is pretty damning too.

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