drug policy

Scotland’s drug statistics are a call to arms for radical reform

Scotland was recently shown to have the highest drug death per capita of any other European country, with the rest of the UK having the fifth-highest.

This figure should be a wake-up call, to both the SNP in Scotland and to the Conservatives in Westminster. This needs to be met with a new, radical approach to tackling drug-related issues. That approach should start with two things. Decriminalisation and legalisation.

It is clear by now that the UK’s war on drugs have failed. Consumption is up, overdoses are up, and our prisons are filled with non-violent drug offenders. We cannot carry on with the same old policies and attitudes towards drug use. 

Doing What Works in Policing Drugs

former Chief Constable Tom Lloyd

A few years ago I wrote an open letter to Police across the country saying that we should change the way we tackle the harms caused by drugs and the criminal markets that supply them. To be clear, I am not in favour of people harming themselves by taking substances, whether illegally or not.

I do believe we can develop more effective ways to reduce harmful drug use, and the crime and violence associated with drug supply. We need to do what works, not simply what we’ve always done.

It was encouraging to see the announcement earlier this week that North Wales Police Force will not automatically prosecute low level possession offences, but offer users treatment and rehabilitation services. North Wales are joining a number of other Police Forces around the country showing leadership on the drugs issue by moving away from automatic criminalisation of users and taking an alternative, public health-based approach.

It's a real public health concern that drug consumption is largely blind, with prohibition meaning that consumers don't know compounds or potency

Rob Wilson, CEO

It is remarkable that in the UK today most people have no idea what is in the illicit drugs they take.  At one level, it is odd that people do not seem to care more about what they are putting into their body – after all there is a level of personal responsibility in all this. But it is also true that with drugs being illegal, it is not easy to find ways of verifying the content even if you wished to.

According to our Public Attitudes to Drugs in the UK 2019 report out today, most people end up using cannabis completely blindfolded.  Many are young people and it is akin to them going into a bar and randomly selecting a drink from a bottle with no label. The majority of cannabis users have no knowledge of the strains they’re consuming and the impact on them of the varying proportions of the compounds.  It’s dangerous not to know or understand exactly what you are ingesting with food, let along illicitly supplied drugs – where levels of concern for welfare of customers is limited.

A more sophisticated approach to drugs is needed to tackle gang violence effectively

Rob Wilson, CEO

With everything else going on in politics and the world at the moment, an article in The Times entitled 'Criminal Gangs "Better Funded Than the Police"' may have passed people by. For those of us on the centre right of politics it should serve as a wake up call, an eye-opener to the evidence about what is happening on our streets now...today!

Young offenders, according to Jackie Sebire, Deputy Assistant of the National Police Chiefs' Council, no longer care about the consequences of committing violent crimes because criminal gangs are better funded than the police. She points out that drug users in Bedfordshire spend almost as much on cocaine and cannabis alone as the force's £113 million budget. Not long ago the Home Affairs Select Committee also pointed to the Police being behind the criminal gangs in terms of the use of technology and other state of the art equipment.

Let’s end the harms of cannabis prohibition

Let’s end the harms of cannabis prohibition

Viewpoint by Andrew Boff AM

At heart, I’m a libertarian - I believe that people should be free to make their own choices. But drugs reform is more than this. It’s about safety and protecting people from harm - a harm of government making.

Cannabis is out there and people are using it - to say that criminalisation is working is borderline delusional. The government’s own data shows that 30 per cent of 16 to 59-year olds in England and Wales have smoked cannabis. This is slightly higher for 16 to 24-year olds, at 30.7 per cent, which suggests usage is rising. Much of this will be provided by the black market - drug dealers don’t have age restrictions or product standards.

"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.