Drugs tsar begins work in earnest

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Britain's new "drugs tsar" formally took up his post yesterday. Keith Hellawell (pictured) has been working two days a week since October at his new role of UK Anti-drugs Co-ordinator while continuing as Chief Constable of West Yorkshire.

He is due to report his recommendations for action to the drugs minister George Howarth and to the Cabinet committee in April.

Labour MP Paul Flynn, chairman of the Commons drug misuse group, said that Mr Hellawell's job came with a "derisory budget and his task is to repackage failed policies".

He will be helped in his pounds 102,000-a-year post by a deputy, Michael Trace, 36, currently director of the Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners' Trust, and a staff of six.

Mr Hellawell arrived at his new Whitehall offices overlooking St James's Park for his first day in the post yesterday morning making no comments on the task ahead of him as he posed for photographs.

Mr Hellawell has warned against seeking "simplistic" answers to the problem of drugs.

Paul Cavadino, principal officer of the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders, urged him to use his role to shift resources away from law enforcement and towards treatment of addicts.

He said: "Of the resources currently allocated to dealing with drugs, two-thirds are spent on enforcing the law and just one-third on education, prevention and treatment."