Posted: Friday 16th March 2018
When the Chief Constable and I embarked on this journey, calling for a change in drug policy, there was little public support from the political and policing community. However, there is now a growing body of supporters. I have received letters of support from Members of Parliament, Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) across the political spectrum, serving police officers, and members of the public. It is enlightening that we have heard drug policy issues being debated in parliament more in the last year than ever before, and many more voices of reform are heard than ever before.
I commend the Drug, Alcohol and Justice Cross Party Parliamentary group for allowing an important topic, such as drug and alcohol policy, to get the attention it needs and for inviting PCCs with a shared vision for a new holistic drug strategy. The volume of people in attendance at the meeting and their reaction to what was being discussed is an indication of the level of importance that people place on drug and alcohol policy. Not only do our actions hold the potential to save lives and reduce harm in the UK, they can have a major impact internationally, serving as an example for other nations looking to reform their drug policies.
The tide is changing and the fears of being attacked by the media and the public is totally unfounded. I am most grateful for my fellow PCC colleagues who attended the Drug, Alcohol and Justice Cross Party Parliamentary Group together with me last week. By working in collaboration, we will/can l shape our future strategy to reduce harm. Only Government can change the law, but PCCs and Chief Constables can back or implement a range of reforms to benefit the communities they serve.
My position on drug policy is a move that now has a strong evidence base from around the world, and has been recommended by the ACMD (Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs represented here today), the British Medical Journal, the Royal Society for Public Health, the Faculty of Public Health, Transform Drug Policy (who are here today) most major UK drug service providers, as well as having cross-cutting support from United Nations agencies including from the World Health Organisation.
Polling shows high-level public support – so it’s not even a political liability anymore. These reforms are part of an emerging new consensus. Over half of the UK public support cannabis law reform, and two-thirds back a review of our drug laws. The Times has called for legal regulation; the Sun, Mirror, Star and most broadsheets want a review and/or cannabis reform.
It would be great if the government would actually show leadership on this. The leadership being shown by the police – and the evidence that emerges from them – will encourage the Government to remove its head from the sand and actually bring forward legislation to decriminalise nationally. I am 100 percent committed to supporting the Drug, Alcohol and Justice Cross Party Parliamentary group in any way possible.