Police chief calls for rethink on drug laws

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The Independent Online

A chief constable will suggest today that the only way to win the war on all drugs may be to legalise them.

Richard Brunstrom, the head of North Wales Police, will call for a Royal Commission on legalisation when he addresses his police authority. In a statement released by the force yesterday, Mr Brunstrom compares Britain's policy outlawing the sale and possession of illegal drugs to that of alcohol prohibition in 1920s America.

He argues that despite the huge amount of cash spent on tackling the "flood" of narcotics on the streets, drugs including cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine and heroin are cheaper and more readily available than before.

He describes moves by David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, to reclassify cannabis as a Class-C drug as a "timid" measure that let dealers and smugglers amass huge profits.

Mr Brunstrom also describes policy on tobacco and alcohol as "baffling and confusing" given "the immense cost to society and industry from the results of their abuse".

But the chief constable insists that North Wales Police is backing the existing drug laws.

Mr Brunstrom says: "Only a Royal Commission would have the independence and political freedom to coolly consider all the options. These could include leaving things as they are; depenalisation; decriminalisation; cracking down even harder on drug misuse, smuggling and dealing; or the legalisation of some or all drugs. Its conclusions might just find an answer that would break the downward spiral in this country in the so-called war on drugs."

The Home Office said: "It is the Government's firm belief that all illegal drugs cause harm to the health of individuals and communities. However, the Home Secretary has said before that there is room for a sensible, adult debate on the issue."