Dyfed-Powys Police’s chief constable said use of drugs should be seen as a public health problem rather than a criminal justice problem
A police chief has called on the government to look at the evidence around decriminalising drugs amid a rise in deaths.
Dyfed-Powys Police’s chief constable Richard Lewis said the issue should be seen as a public health problem rather than a criminal justice problem.
It comes after Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, faced backlash when he announced plans for a commission to consider decriminalising cannabis after visiting a “fascinating” marijuana farm in the United States.
Mr Lewis told the BBC it was “important that we do take evidence from other countries” to inform domestic policy.
“I think we can have a public health approach to those that suffer from drug use, those that are addicts, and we can have a criminal justice response to those that peddle drugs in our communities,” he added.
He said that “despite some notable successes in terms of seizures, we still see those drugs on our streets”.
“I asked one heroin addict: ‘As soon as we take your dealer out how soon is it before you are able to access drugs?’ and he said: ‘The same day’.
“If we keep doing things in the way that we have for the last 50 years… we will achieve the same results and deaths will continue to rise.”
Mr Khan last week put himself on a collision course with the Labour leadership as he announced that Lord Falconer, a former justice secretary, would chair the first London drugs commission to assess the effectiveness of enforcement.
During a visit to the Traditional Cannabis Dispensary and Cultivation Centre in Los Angeles, he said an “honest, open” conversation was needed about UK cannabis laws.
“Hearing from those who cultivate and grow this plant has been fascinating,” Mr Khan added.