A growing international movement of police officers calling for drug law reform are making their voices heard in the Police Statement of Support for Drug Policy Reform, launched at the United Nations in Vienna last week.
The statement, initiated by Neil Woods, a former Police Officer who is now Chairman of LEAP UK (Law Enforcement Action Partnership), highlights the harm caused by drugs and calls for an end to the war on drugs. In its place, the statement argues that policy should concentrate on reducing risks, providing more humane responses, and lead to better health outcomes for the whole community. It requests that Governments across the world should consider:
1. Harm Reduction: policies and programmes that aim to reduce the harms associated with the use of drugs, especially for people unable or unwilling to stop. These include needle and syringe programmes, drug consumption rooms, outreach, drug checking and pill testing, and the prescribing of pharmaceutical substitutes for street drugs. These evidence-based programmes provide people who use drugs with health and social support, as well as a bridge into drug treatment, housing and employment.
2. Decriminalisation: the policy of removing criminal penalties for minor drug offences, such as the possession and use of illicit substances to reduce the harms experienced by those on the demand side. The offences remain prohibited, but are dealt with through administrative penalties or, ideally, through no sanctions at all.
3. Legal Regulation: the process whereby drugs are no longer illegal. Instead, manufacture, production, sale, distribution and marketing is strictly regulated by the government and delivered by private or public enterprises rather than criminal groups. Regulated markets may take many different forms, dependent on the substance in question – from controlled sale, production and consumption such as for alcohol and tobacco, to more restrictive prescription-only models. Yet, across all models, the regulated and controlled availability of drugs will significantly shrink the existing illegal market thereby reducing corruption, economic costs and health harms associated with the current unregulated market.
Ron Hogg, Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner for Durham and Darlington is well-known for his support for a new, health-focused approach to UK drugs policy, and chaired the workshop at the UN conference at which the statement was launched. Ron said:
“It is the Police who see the real outcomes of drug policy. In my 30 years as a Police Officer, I spoke to too many grieving families who lost their children to drug addiction; I have attended the scenes of too many drug overdoses. This international statement is the first time police voices have come together to answer back. We are here as members of the policing community to say to Governments that current policies don’t work’.
The full statement can be found here: https://cleph.com.au/index.php/resources/blog/cleph-leap-launch-police-statement-support-drug-policy-reform-62nd-commission-narcotic-drugs-vienna
The LEAP UK website is here : http://ukleap.org/
The recent piece on ITV news is here: https://www.itv.com/news/2019-03-25/stronger-purer-and-lots-of-them-un-chief-tells-itv-news-illegal-drugs-spreading-worldwide-as-targets-scrapped/
Posted on Wednesday 27th March 2019