UK police chief: To reduce crime, we must end the war on drugs



Making drugs legal – but controlling supply – would stop the flow of money to crime gangs and destroy their power.

Mike Barton, Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary
The Observer, Saturday 28 September 2013 21.00 BST

As a police officer for nearly 34 years, I have witnessed the worsening problems of drug addiction – whether it's to controlled substances or legal drugs, such as alcohol. The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 has prevailed throughout my time of service, but it would appear not to have had the impact that optimistic legislators planned.

Throughout those 34 years, I have recognised that it is an indisputable truth that drugs are bad. Occasionally, a retired colleague advocates a change, but mostly politicians, professionals and the media collude in the fiction that we are winning the war on drugs, or if not, that we still have to fight it in the same way.

Their message has been successful in winning support. Indeed, I recently joined a debating society event at the University of Durham, during which I argued for the decriminalisation of Class A drugs. I felt that our team was funnier, as well as better-informed and more erudite than the opposing team, who were advocating maintaining the status quo. Imagine my surprise, my chagrin even, when the students overwhelmingly voted in favour of maintaining outright prohibition.

So, are we really winning the "war on drugs"?

Well, if the war on drugs means stopping every street corner turning into an opium den and discouraging the mass consumption of laudanum – as happened during the 19th century – then it has succeeded. But if the war on drugs means trying to reduce the illicit supply of drugs, then it has comprehensively failed.

One of my custody sergeants, who was discussing addiction at an event recently with Recovery Academy Durham, noticed the absence of a former addict we worked with called Gary, who is in his 40s and has been on drugs ever since he was 14. Gary had not been arrested recently, so it was concluded (wrongly) that "well, he must be dead". That is the shocking truth – the Garys of this world are either in prison, regularly arrested or dead. But can we not come up with a better way of helping people like him?

Not all crime gangs raise income through selling drugs, but in my experience most of them do. 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. And buying or being treated with diamorphine, say, is cheap.

Drugs should be controlled. They should not, of course, be freely available. I think addiction to anything – be it drugs, alcohol gambling or anything else – is not a good thing, but outright prohibition just hands revenue streams to villains. Since 1971, prohibition has put billions into the hands of villains who sell adulterated drugs on the streets.

If you started to give a heroin addict the drug therapeutically, we would not have the scourge of hepatitis C and HIV spreading among needle users, for instance. I am calling for a controlled environment, not a free for all. In addition, I am saying that people who encourage others to take drugs by selling them are criminals, and their actions should be tackled. But addicts, on the other hand, need to be treated, cared for and encouraged to break the cycle of addiction. They do not need to be criminalised.

The approach to banned substances contrasts sharply with our attitude towards alcohol. I am deeply disappointed that the government has not followed through on its initial support for a minimum price for alcohol. In the north-east we suffer immense inequalities in health and life expectancy due to alcohol addiction. Is it fair that alcohol-related crime and licensing costs society in my own force area alone at least £65.8m a year?

Is it sensible that in County Durham, you can buy two litres of strong cider for just £1.99? I suspect it has never seen an apple, but is more akin to industrial ethanol. Social tolerance of excessive drinking has become far too great.

This article continues here: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/28/ending-war-on-drugs-cut-crime-mike-barton?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487#start-of-comments

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Comments

Just saw this on the BBC website. I'm shocked on 2 counts. 1, that an ACTIVELY serving chief police officer has come out and said this, and 2, that the guy happens to run the force that's only the next county over from me.
 
I think this is absolutely huge, a top cop has gone out into the real world and has experienced what it is actually like and has found what really goes on in a day to day life, I like how he made the point of retired enforcement and politicians. :)
 
Now there is an intelligent man. I also thank you for you bravery Mike Barton. It could not have been easy to stand up and state whats really going on; especially when so many people have just robotically stayed the path on this utterly failed war. I would love nothing more than to see the thugs out the dope game.. I am sick and tired of addicts and users being treated and placed in the same category as criminals. Again well said I couldn't agree more. If people aren't willing to face the fact that the prohibition of drugs has caused exponentially more harm than a regulatory system would then they need to be looking to the addicts for a definition for denial. When you think about it.. the continuation of this backfired war is beginning to look allot like an addiction. The old whats the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. destroying addicts and drug users lives in the name of saving them has never made any sense. Spending huge amounts of money to create a black market thats making thugs rich is insane. Again, thank you for you words and your honesty. The first step to solving a problem is making an honest assessment and you have done a great job of this Chief Constable Barton.
 
caballero;11856030 said:
Why ending the war on drugs will cut crime

Ending war on drugs will cut crime
'If the war on drugs means trying to reduce the illicit supply of drugs, then it has comprehensively failed.'
Anyone taking bets on when hes gonna be sacked?
 
StoneHappyMonday;11857037 said:
Me. I made the same point in EADD.

He's already getting shit.
No surprise its coming from his colleagues trying to keep their cushy jobs. Nevertheless its still good to see people advocating for legalisation/decrminalisation.

But yeah the government will probably either ignore him or sack him like they did with Nutt.

I'll have a tenner for him to be gone before the weeks over.
 
One of the worst things about the war on drugs is the fact the gov needs its enemy. Esp say crack and minorities. Cia planes loaded with cocaine? I dont think thats some fluke. No one cares about ppls rights anymore, the gov i mean...they need to keep it illegal to protect, exactly their cushy jobs, the privitized prison industry to guarantee fresh supply of inmates. And all the money allocated to the dea and to fighting "the scourge of drug abuse" id really like to see ppl live and let live one day.
 
All they have to do is realize that they will make exponentially more with so much less overhead and hassles working for a new drug system.. right you guys.. come on come on think about the money. Hey and for anyone that got offended buy this you will also no longer be doing a despicable thing so you will no longer have to you lie to yourself all the time, telling yourselves you are trying to do good, because you will actually be fighting the good fight, truly helping people, and doing the right thing.

NSFW:
[video=youtube;vVf6GJHkSHE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVf6GJHkSHE [/video]
 
Top police chiefs warn Mike Barton: be careful about message on drugs

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/sep/29/police-chiefs-warn-barton-careful-message-drugs
A senior police officer who broke ranks to call for class A drugs to be decriminalised has been warned by his fellow chief officers to be careful about the messages he is sending to young people.

Writing in the Observer, Mike Barton, Durham's chief constable, suggested that the NHS could supply drugs to addicts, breaking the monopoly and income stream of criminal gangs.

Comparing drugs prohibition to the ban on alcohol in 1920s America that gave rise to Al Capone and the mafia, Barton argued that criminalising the trade in drugs has put billions of pounds into the pockets of criminal gangs.

Drug policy reformers have praised Barton's challenge to the status quo as sensible and courageous.

But the lead on drug policy for the Association of Chief Police Officers said in a statement on Sunday that Barton was "entitled to his views". However, Chief Constable Andy Bliss said any decision would be a matter for parliament.

"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," said Bliss.

"We also need to take account of the fact that illicit drugs markets are dynamic and the wider issue is not just about class A drugs. Issues like cannabis farms and new psychoactive drugs also create social harms and attract organised criminality."

cont. http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/sep/29/police-chiefs-warn-barton-careful-message-drugs
 
Think of the children Mr. Policeman. Are you thinking of the children? I do not think you are thinking of the children. Do you hate children? They are children. How can you hate them? You monster.

 
Just what i was thinking. How in gods green earth can we think that a system designed for the benefit of all, that would make allot of money for the children, would reduce the violence that is always created by prohibition, could fund and promote help with addictions and other health issues, could possibly prevent a loved one of thiers from being locked in a cement box with real criminals. Then there is the fact that children turn into adults and addicts so it could even prevent them from dying or going to prison.

There is no better message to send to the children than.. yes children we realize that this is insane and not working so we will undertake the problem and switch to a better way of doing things.. after all children how can we stress learning so much for you all and then be unable to learn and adapt ourselves. Children if you kept doing something that was causing chaos and evil and not helping anything; kept doing it even thought it was an absolute failure, we would look at you and children when will you learn.



Please stick to your guns on this one Chief Constable Barton as you are proposing doing the right thing.
 
My idea for control would be a system of licenses. I've been on here trying to generate discussion about the idea before. Basically a license will get you off a drug charge for less-than-traffickable posession. To get your license you have to pass an exam to prove you know your health/safety/chemistry/psychology-basics etc. The system of licenses can be introduced gradually over many years regardless of whether drugs were legal/decriminalized or whatnot. It means users would be encouraged to educate themselves. Of course nobody wants more licenses but we all have drivers licenses and often other licenses too. I think people could become proud of their drug licenses. There could be different levels ie A B C to encourage people to continue learning. Once a significant proportion of the community are licensed then drugs can be perhaps legalised, sale only to those with license etc.
 
A senior police officer who broke ranks to call for class A drugs to be decriminalised has been warned by his fellow chief officers to be careful about the messages he is sending to young people.
Instead, he was ordered to give the message that pouring countless money into a pointless war that serves only a few already-rich industries and destroys millions of human lives is actually helping in some way. Even if it is not. Much better for the children to hear.
 
Tenchi;11856263 said:
Just saw this on the BBC website. I'm shocked on 2 counts. 1, that an ACTIVELY serving chief police officer has come out and said this, and 2, that the guy happens to run the force that's only the next county over from me.
I think that some ppl are ignorant or delusional to what really goes on in the real world! Because 99% of crimes are drug related... It makes perfect sense. We take away criminals power....drugs!
 
slimvictor;11860179 said:
Instead, he was ordered to give the message that pouring countless money into a pointless war that serves only a few already-rich industries and destroys millions of human lives is actually helping in some way. Even if it is not. Much better for the children to hear.
Children If you dont understand it.. try and lock it up and hide it away while making money doing that, only actually address an issue after you have milked this as long as possible, don't worry about the millions of lives that have been lost or ruined, those lives are not important enough to consider admitting an well-intentioned attempt has utterly failed.. children we would be forced to reconsider and form an approach that has a chance of working..

And always stay the course, thats right never ever admit that a current policy isn't working, it will only bring heartache children, as you will have to admit to yourself what everyone that isn't in denial already knows.. thats right children, reality is an ok place but its much nicer to live in fantasy... if anyone ever calls you on your fantasy then you should instantly pull the "think of the children" card.. most people, because of the importance they place on and their love for children, can be manipulated like sheep by simply questioning their love of children.. If you accuse someone of being against the children, the truth, honesty, and reality of the situation won't matter to much, as the vast majority of people will side with the person that pulls the "think about the children" card first.

Also children you should never accept any responsibility for any unforeseen negative results associated with your well meant but failed attempt, it is always better to blame everything on the situation you are trying but failing to address, children it wasn't our intention to create unbelievably wealthy violent criminal enterprises, whose actions plague the world and society, It wasn't our intention to fill the justice systems of the world to a point were murderers and rapist are let out to create room for addicts, It wasn't our intention to drive the price of these substances through the roof and thus make getting them so expensive that it created large amounts of crime and vice, It wasn't our intention to have entire nations devastated by the black market our failed policies created, it was never our intention to ruin millions of peoples lives in the name of the fallacious guise of saving them, It was never our intention to spend this staggering amount of money and have it make no significant positive effect.. It was not our intention to create a tax free market, essentially giving away billions and billions that could have been used to really address the problem.. So children, since it wasn't our intent to have these terrible unforeseen consequences resulting from our well meant failed attempt, so then children we need take no responsibility for these consequences or make any attempt to fix these results, after all we never intended them children..

Taking this approach will buy you time to live in your fantasy and denial, as if you play the "think of the children' card they will give you more support, yes in reality it will make things even worse children, but remember when things aren't going well and really have never went well, and have no indication of ever going well, that is the time to embrace, preserve, and promote your fantasy children. Children it takes a big man to admit that a well-intentioned idea has failed and needs to be reworked in a manor that is compassionate and realistic, removes the unwanted intentions, actually actively addresses the issues, and benefits the world, but children it takes a much bigger man to stay the course and maintain their fantasy in the face of all reality.
 
This police chief has the right intentions but his solution of having substances being strictly controlled, though available, is still flawed in a major way - if all drugs aren't freely available but controlled there will still be huge operations getting those illicit drugs out to the streets. Let's face it, we're going to have to give the power to the people as far as drugs go sooner or later if we really want to eradicate the vast majority of criminal gangs. If people want to overdose and kill themselves with meth, crack, heroin, etc., etc., then they are going to do so regardless of whether the drugs are legal or not. Just because a drug is illegal doesn't mean it's hard to find, it just means you have to put in some groundwork in the black market to do so. Besides, after drugs are completely legalized, the Mexican and South American cartels won't have any major sources of income...only gangs that can still count on income from gambling and prostitution will remain, as well as the perpetual political corruption, but that's definitely nothing new.
 
Danny Kuschlick of Transform Drugs Policy Foundation said:
He is that all-too-rare thing, a man who serves on the frontline, with principles and courage, who supports effective reform that best meets the needs of the communities that he serves.
You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We'd all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We are doing what we can
But if you want money
For people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait
Don't you know it's gonna be all right

You say you'll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it's the institution
Well, you know
You better free your mind instead
 
neversickanymore;11861855 said:
the "think of the children" card.. most people, because of the importance they place on and their love for children, can be manipulated like sheep by simply questioning their love of children.. If you accuse someone of being against the children, the truth, honesty, and reality of the situation won't matter to much, as the vast majority of people will side with the person that pulls the "think about the children" card first.
This joker card has rarely, if ever, worked for the pro-lifers who are trying to put an end to abortion. So why should it mysteriously work in another context?

Perhaps we could all try to understand this in simple terms so that even a retard can get their head around it: The pro-lifers aren't interested in creating enormous multi-billion dollar enterprises, there is NO MONEY TO BE MADE, so playing this card called "it's for the children" just magically loses it's power and turns into a joker.

But when there is MONEY TO BE MADE or MONEY BEING MADE, as the case may be, this joker card just magically turns into an ace.

1/ The pro-lifers can't use the "think of the children" - the fact that abortion is a MULTI-BILLION-DOLLAR-A-YEAR-BUSINESS, has turned the card they are trying to play with, into a useless joker, so they lose. CROSS. Big fat zero! Go sit in the corner and face the wall you dunce!!!

2/ The pro-drug-war can ABSOLUTELY use the "think of the children" card because the simple fact that the drug war is a MULTI-BILLION-DOLLAR-A-YEAR-BUSINESS, has turned this card into an ace, so they win. TICK. 100 percent perfect! Excellent student! I shall be having a good word with the principal!

Need I say any more?

It's all about the money. Anyone who is stupid enough to think otherwise is...well...stupid enough...
 
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