Britain is "plainly losing" the war on drugs and may even be going backwards, the Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, said yesterday.
But he insisted he was personally opposed to decriminalisation and that the Government had "no intention whatever" of relaxing the law.
Mr Clarke delivered his gloomy assessment when asked at the home affairs select committee what his long ministerial experience of dealing with the issue had taught him.
"I have not reached the stage of that blinding insight about how we are going to improve our record, is the honest truth," he told the cross-party panel. "We've been in a war against drugs for 30 years. We're plainly losing it. We've not achieved much progress and the same problems come round and round."
Pressed on whether decriminalisation could be a solution, he said: "The Government has no intention whatever of changing the criminal law on drugs. I would be worried about losing the deterrent effect of criminalisation of youngsters who start experimenting.
"The really key thing is to try to work out how to get fewer young people to start experimenting with drugs."
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