Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group

"It's a myth that we can arrest our way out of drug problems" - Mike Barton speech at CDPRG launch

Former Chief Constable Durham Police Mike Barton

I joined Lancashire police in 1980 and this month I retired as Chief Constable of Durham. Throughout those 39 years the drug laws have essentially remained unchanged.

In 2000 the Police Federation’s review of drugs and the law, supported by the Home Office, found no evidence that severe custodial penalties or their enforcement, however vigorous, was having any impact on supply. They said the law should be based on seven principles. I will deal with just the first three.

Firstly it should be used as a means of reducing demand and support the broader agenda of health, prevention and education. Well, since 2000 the police have advocated a health-based approach and yet it is still primarily seen as a criminal justice issue.

"Our drug laws need fundamental review" - Dr Clare Gerada's speech at CDPRG launch

Dr Clare Gerada, 27th June 2019

I have been a GP for nearly three decades and before that a psychiatrist. All of this time I have worked with patients with substance misuse problems. First with the large number of heroin addicts we had in the 1980’s and 1990’s – which then moved to crack cocaine, other stimulants and more recently drugs such as mephedrone, ecstasy and its derivates and a whole host of drugs euphuistically called ‘club drugs’.

Introducing the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group

Drug policy is a fast changing and increasingly vital aspect of public policy. When our Chair, Crispin Blunt MP, asked me to undertake the CEO role at the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group (CDPRG), we agreed two things: 

  • first that CDPRG would be completely independent in its thinking and 

  • second, that thinking would be exclusively based on where the evidence takes us. I do not come at this with any agenda, I have an open mind and a wish to reflect the evidence and reduce harm.