War on drugs is lost, says police boss
WEST Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson says it is time to accept that “we have lost the war on drugs”.
He believes it is time for an “adult conversation” on the topic, saying that we should be treating drug addicts as people with a health problem rather than as criminals.
The illegal drug trade costs public services in the West Midlands £1.4 billion each year, as well as causing half of all acquisitive crime such as theft and burglary.
In February the PCC outlined a series of ‘transformative’ drug policies for the region, and travelled to Switzerland in June on a fact-finding mission to see how a different approach to drug users worked.
Heroin-assisted treatment rooms, where users can be pre- scribed a small dose of safe heroin by a doctor, have seen the number of drug-related overdoses halve there.
Mr Jamieson said: “I want to refocus drugs policy to the harm, to the crimes caused that are connected with drugs, and then the cost of it all.
“Because on all three things we’re getting it wrong.
“In public policy the war on drugs, as we call it, we have lost. And it’s an expensive war that we’re carrying on that’s failing. It’s failing the people on drugs, it’s failing the people who suffer from the paraphernalia on the streets, and are worrying about their children getting involved.
“And it’s hitting the taxpayer big time.
“One of the areas that we’re looking at is bringing the probation-type work forward, so that many people on drugs can get help, diverting them away from their criminality.
“We’ve got a prison heaving with young men in there for minor dealing crimes. And they’re mainly doing the minor dealing because they’re trying to feed their habit. It’s just crazy.
“And in some cases we are looking at the health service.
“Could the health service prescribe certain things? Because then, of course, they don’t need to steal, they don’t need paraphernalia on the street. So we’re looking at that as an approach.
“People on drugs, people living dysfunctional lives, need a lot more healthcare. They’re in and out of hospital all the time, and what we want to do is try and regulate their lives, so in fact there’s a saving there. But the saving also comes from a lowering of crime, because burglaries and stealing are reduced.”
> PCC David Jamieson