Top cop: legalise drugs

The Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary has called for class-A drugs to be decriminalised to break the monopoly and income stream of criminal gangs.

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Durham's chief quotes Einstein in response to drugs debate

"My article in the Observer over the weekend was written some time ago. It was designed to encourage us all to think about this issue, and debate it. Accusations that my arguments are not thought through have validity - because ideas in policing can only be thought through when debated openly, honestly and fully. I look forward to listening to the debate but I leave you with Einstein's wise words; "If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got".

– Chief Constable Mike Barton, Durham Constabulary

Durham Chief Constable calls for hard drugs to be legalised

Durham chief constable Mike Barton has called for hard drugs to be legalised.

Mr Barton said decriminalisation was the best way to take power from criminal gangs.

Writing in The Observer, he suggested the NHS should supply class-A drugs to addicts.

"Not all crime gangs raise income through selling drugs, but most of them do in my experience so offering an alternative route of supply to users cuts off the gang's income stream.

"If an addict were able to access drugs via the NHS or some similar organisation, then they would not have to go out and buy illegal drugs.

"Drugs should be controlled. They should not, of course, be freely available.

– Durham Chief Constable Mike Barton

Durham Constabulary launched Operation Sledgehammer to tackle organised crime gangs. The Durham Chief Constable, who has served for almost 34 years, has the backing of Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg.

"I am delighted he has spoken out - he is a professional officer with 34 years experience and he has seen the effects of the current policy."

"Clearly we will enforce the law in Durham as it stands, but people like Mike Barton have to stand up and I applaud him for doing so."

"We do need a radical rethink."

– Police and Crime Commissioner for Durham Constabulary Ron Hogg

"However, government policy on drugs enforcement is very clear and unambiguous and our job as police officers is to enforce the law.

"We need in particular to be very thoughtful about setting clear boundaries, especially for young people, in relation to drugs, their misuse and criminal activity surrounding them."

– National policing lead on drug-related crime, Chief Constable Andy Bliss

ACPO said the issue was for Parliament to decide, not officers.