Controversial police chief is drugs tsar

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The Independent Online
A controversial chief constable will be appointed today as the national drugs "tsar".

Keith Hellawell, Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, will become the UK Anti-Drugs Co-ordinator while his deputy will be Michael Trace, the head of the Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners Trust (Rapt).

The Government has opted for two men with very different backgrounds to help straddle the different sides of the drugs debate and to share the workload.

Mr Hellawell, 56, a spokesman on drugs for the Association of Chief Police Officers, has caused controversy by talking about relaxing the laws on cautioning people caught in possession of cannabis. He has proposed greater use of rehabilitation, rather than punishment, for drug abusers, and is keen to develop the American system of specialist drug courts. However, he rejects the legalisation of cannabis.

He also sparked a debate on prostitution when he recently revealed to The Independent that he was in favour of legalising brothels.

Mr Hellawell earns significantly more than the pounds 73,000 offered for the job, and it is unclear whether he has had to take a pay cut. It also remains to be seen whether he will stick to the Government's tough line on drugs.

As a foil to the police chief, Mr Trace, 36, is seen as a younger and more user-friendly appointment, with expertise in prisons and drug treatment.