Letter: Drugs tsar praised

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I was astonished by the criticisms of Keith Hellawell in "This man is paid pounds 106,000 a year to stop Britain's youth taking drugs. Is he worth it?" (report, 26 May).

Keith Hellawell is the calm, determined voice of reality and common sense in an over-hyped and hysterical area of public policy. He is saying that prison does not work but treatment does; that if you go to hospital with a broken leg you get immediate treatment but if you go with heroin addiction you have to wait six months or longer for help, and that cannot be right; that the police should concentrate on the low-key disruption of visible drug markets. These are tough messages for the agencies concerned to swallow.

Keith Hellawell has fashioned an anti-drug policy which might just work. No national super-hero can solve the drugs problem single-handed. To do so requires support and commitment of the statutory agencies at local level.

P J COPPARD

Chair, Barnsley Drug Action Team

South Yorkshire

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