Source: Daily Telegraph
Date: 6 February 2004

Legalise heroin and sell it
on street, says police chief

By Nigel Bunyan

Richard Brunstrom: 'legalise heroin and sell it on the street'
North Wales police chief Richard Brunstrom

A chief constable provoked outrage yesterday by suggesting that heroin should be sold on street corners or in pharmacies.

Richard Brunstrom, who is in charge of North Wales police, said he believed that the drug laws were doing "more harm than good." They left vulnerable people in danger, while enabling criminals to make massive profits.

"Heroin is very addictive, but it is not very, very dangerous," he told the Dragon's Eye programme on BBC Wales. "It is perfectly possible to lead a normal life for a full life span and hold down a job while being addicted to the drug.

"I don't advocate anybody abusing their bodies with drugs, but clearly some want to. What would be wrong with making heroin available on the state for people who want to abuse their bodies?"

He went on: "The question is actually not, 'Am I prepared to see the Government selling heroin on the street corner or through the pharmacy?' but 'Why would we not want to do that? What is wrong with that?

"It is a very challenging question. I don't know what society's answer is, but my answer is that is what we should be doing because our current policy is causing more harm than good."

He claimed that "an enormous" number of people of all ages and all sections of society were "ready to see a root and branch change to our drug laws". Such a move, he said, could cripple the multi-million-pound trade in illegal drugs.

Mr Brunstrom has recently been heavily criticised over his campaign against speeding motorists.

He first outlined his views on drugs three years ago, when he told his police authority that the battle against the suppliers could be won only if drugs were legalised.

Despite the outlay of billions of pounds and thousands of hours in police time, the number of addicts had multiplied at an alarming rate.

He likened the laws on drugs to those on alcohol prohibition in the United States during the 1920s. The latter, he pointed out, had been "an unmitigated disaster". Mr Brunstrom declined to elaborate on his views last night.

His spokesman said: "The chief constable's views on the subject are widely known and there is nothing further to say."

The Association of Chief Police Officers was unimpressed by Mr Brunstrom's outburst.

Andy Hayman, the Chief Constable of Norfolk and the association's spokesman on drugs, said: "Acpo does not support either the legalisation or open sale of any controlled drug. It is not the role of the police service to advocate measures which require expert medical or scientific opinion."

However, a Welsh Labour MP supported the call. Martyn Jones, MP for Clwyd South and chairman of the Welsh affairs select committee in the Commons, said: "I believe he is right to open the debate.

"His solution is certainly controversial, but that is no reason to preclude an intelligent and informed debate on this subject. We cannot close our eyes to the problems generated by drugs any longer."



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