Legalise all drugs, says police chief

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LONDON, Oct 11 (Reuters) North Wales police chief Richard Brunstrom has called for all drugs, including heroin, to be legalised because current policy is based on ''dogma rather than evidence''.

Brunstrom said the Misuse of Drugs Act should be repealed as the current UK drugs policy is based upon a ''wholly outdated and thoroughly repugnant moralistic stance based upon rhetoric and dogma rather than a rational (and more ethical) philosophy''.

He also pointed out that it is impossible to combat an industry worth an estimated 8 billion pounds a year in the UK.

The chief constable laid out his arguments in a response to a Home Office drugs consultation, and will present them to the North Wales Police Authority on Monday.

In a report, he calls for a new classification scheme -- a scientifically based ''hierarchy of harm'' to include all substances of abuse such as nicotine and alcohol.

Brunstrom argued that overwhelming evidence suggested drugs could not be eradicated and that the main aim should be to reduce as far as possible the harm they can cause.

''If policy on drugs is in future to be pragmatic not moralistic, driven by ethics not dogma, then the current prohibitionist stance will have to be swept away as both unworkable and immoral -- to be replaced with an evidence-based unified system (including tobacco and alcohol) aimed at minimisation of harms to society,'' the report said.

''This logical, rational and consistent approach will inexorably and inevitably lead to the legalisation and regulation of all harmful drugs, in place of the current policy of proscription and enforcement for some drugs and the legal regulation of others, selected subjectively.'' He said such a policy would reduce drug-related crime and free-up funds for treatment.

Brunstrom made similar comments at a Police Federation conference in 2002 but was overwhelmingly opposed by the 700 delegates.

Today, the MP for Alyn and Deeside Mark Tami said the claim that the legalisation of heroin was the only way forward was ''blinkered and dangerous'', and that a more considered drugs policy approach was needed.

He was reported by the BBC Web site as saying: ''As 280,000 Class A drug users are responsible for half of all crime, taking the risk of legalising such a dangerous drug is foolhardy and I would not wish to gamble so much on the health and wellbeing of our children.'' REUTERS AE PM1546

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