Stars at fault over drugs, say police

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The Independent Online
A POLICE CHIEF yesterday attacked pop stars and fashion models who glamorise drugs, and called for celebrities who had conquered their addiction to make a stand.

His outspoken comments will be supported later today by Sir George Martin, former producer of the Beatles and a prominent voice in the music industry. He is expected to tell the Association of Chief Police Officers' Summer Drugs Conference in Hinckley, Leicestershire, that record companies should not sign artists who promote drugs.

Criticism of the music and fashion industries follows widely publicised comments by stars such as Noel Gallagher of Oasis - who said that taking drugs was "like having a cup of tea" - and controversy over the use of "heroin-chic" in fashion shoots.

Colin Phillips, chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers Drugs Committee and Chief Constable of Cumbria, told the conference: "Why don't we challenge the lyrics and music? Why is drugs, sex and rock'n'roll something to brag about, something we accept?

"I challenge pop stars who kick drugs to stand up and say they are clean from drugs and keep drugs out of society." He added: "When you get pop stars saying 'it's just like a cup of tea' ... why don't we challenge it? I think we invariably turn a blind eye to the problem."

He added: "Why is the image of drugs being promoted in the fashion industry? Are drugs becoming a fashion accessory?" He was particularly critical of the use of "hollow-eyed" models who gave the impression of being high on drugs. The case in defence of the fashion industry is expected to be given today by Alexandra Shulman, editor of Vogue magazine.

Mr Phillips is the latest police chief to speak against the so-called glamorisation of drugs. Keith Hellawell, the drugs "tsar", has been highly critical of youth and cult figures for not providing a credible anti-drugs example.

Dick Kellaway, chief investigations officer of Customs and Excise, told the conference that the latest intelligence revealed that British criminals were relocating and setting up drug distribution networks in Belgium and the Netherlands.

He cited the example of Liverpool drugs dealer Curtis Warren who operated in the Netherlands, but who was jailed for 12 years recently by a Dutch court after being convicted of trafficking. He said: "There are more and more people going to Holland and Belgium ... They believe it is more difficult to be arrested in a foreign country."

Dealers in the Netherlands and Belgium were distributing a range of drugs, including cannabis, heroin and cocaine, but also synthetic substances such as ecstasy, he said. Easy access to European borders made trafficking easier.