Po­lice chief who wants to let off heroin deal­ers

Daily Mail - - NEWS - By Chris Brooke

AD­DICTS who deal il­le­gal drugs will es­cape prose­cu­tion un­der a con­tro­ver­sial po­lice scheme.

Mike Bar­ton, Chief Con­sta­ble of Durham Po­lice, said those found with drugs, in­clud­ing co­caine and heroin, would not go to court if they agreed to a four-month treat­ment plan.

Even deal­ers who are found to be sell­ing drugs to feed their habit will not be taken to court from next month. Mr Bar­ton, who has pre­vi­ously called for drugs to be le­galised, claims this would al­low of­fi­cers to fo­cus at­ten­tion on tack­ling the ‘re­ally bad’ crim­i­nal deal­ers.

It is the first time a Bri­tish po­lice force has de­cided not to pros­e­cute deal­ers, who usu­ally face a min­i­mum of 18 months in jail.

The move fol­lows a two-year trial of a scheme that al­lows ad­dicts to avoid court and a crim­i­nal record.

In­stead, they must agree to join a four-month Check­point pro­gramme that tack­les un­der­ly­ing prob­lems such as their life­styles. Mr Bar­ton told the Mail on Sun­day: ‘From next month, any­one caught in pos­ses­sion of any drugs will go on Check­point.

‘If they agree, they will not face prose­cu­tion or go to court.

‘If they are sell­ing heroin to feed their habit, we do not want to send them to prison. They are tech­ni­cally deal­ers but if they are sad peo­ple rather than bad, we want to stop their ad­dic­tion. Then we can fo­cus on the re­ally bad peo­ple.

‘What’s the point in an ad­dict go­ing to court and get­ting a £50 fine? If they pay it at all, they will only steal or sell five bags of heroin to fund it. How does that help us?’

El­iz­a­beth Bur­ton-Phillips, who set up the char­ity DrugFAM after los­ing her son Nick to heroin ad­dic­tion in 2004, said: ‘This is ab­so­lutely wrong. If you are an ac­tive drug dealer, you are deal­ing in death.’

The Prime Min­is­ter re­cently ar­gued against drug re­form after meet­ing Mrs Bur­ton-Phillips.

Mr Bar­ton’s views on tack­ling drugs are hugely con­tro­ver­sial. In March he out­lined a plan to use pub­lic money to sup­ply heroin for ad­dicts to in­ject them­selves twice a day in a su­per­vised ‘shoot­ing gallery’.

He said it would re­duce crime be­cause the ad­dicts would no longer have to steal to pay for their fix, and deal­ers would lose cus­tomers.

‘We need to get over our moral panic about giv­ing peo­ple heroin as part of a treat­ment plan,’ he said.

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