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Tuesday, 19 February, 2002, 10:40 GMT
Anarchism 'appeals' to police chief
Commander Brian Paddick
Brian Paddick says people need to be "educated"
The police chief who spearheaded the "softly, softly" cannabis scheme in London has courted further controversy by posting his views on drugs on a website.

Brian Paddick, the Metropolitan Police's Lambeth commander, says the theory of anarchism is appealing.

On the site Commander Paddick discusses the cannabis project in London, and elaborates on his views on drugs.

In a discussion about drugs he says: "...we need to take the criminality out of it by legalisation and strict control.

Most people in the police think I am a beyond redemption 'let's get the guys in white coats to take him away' rebel

Brian Paddick

"We need to educate people as to the effects drugs will have on them short term/long term and allow those old enough to make their own decision about what they do to their bodies.

"The bottom line is, screw the dealers, help the addicts."

In another posting he says: "The concept of anarchism has always appealed to me.

"The idea of the innate goodness of the individual that is corrupted by society or the system.

Police appointments

"It is a theoretical argument but I am not sure everyone would behave well if there were no laws and no system."

So far this year the site, features at least 25 "frank" contributions from the police officer.

A cannabis smoker
Cannabis users are cautioned in Lambeth

Commander Paddick, 43, the UK's highest-ranking openly gay officer, describes his interests as "police, gay issues, drugs".

His appearance under the Internet moniker "Brian: The Commander" initially caused disbelief among other contributors, some with names like "panda killer" and "slowdog".

But Commander Paddick, currently on leave, confirmed in an interview in this week's Big Issue magazine, he is the contributor.

In one entry he offers chat room members the opportunity for one-to-one appointments at the police station.

The maverick commander explains his presence on the website as a way of broadening his own understanding by speaking to people with differing views on policing.

He told the Big Issue he became aware of the site when it was brought to his attention that racist comments had been posted there by one of his own officers.

Giuliani's criticisms

One posting by Commander Paddick said: "Most people in the police think I am a beyond redemption 'let's get the guys in white coats to take him away' rebel."

Since the relaxing of police attitudes to cannabis under Commander Paddick in Lambeth, hundreds of people in possession of small amounts of the drug have not been prosecuted, saving thousands of hours of police time.

Anyone caught with small amounts of cannabis in the area is now dealt with by a caution rather than by being prosecuted.

But critics claim the scheme has led to an influx of cannabis users into the area and a growth in hard drugs.

Last week the scheme was criticised by crime-busting former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who said anyone in possession of cannabis should be arrested.

Andrew Smyth, Metropolitan Police Federation
"I wonder whether the stress is getting too much for him"
The BBC's Danny Shaw
"Paddick has been pushing at the door of controversy for several months"
See also:

15 Feb 02 | England
Giuliani criticises drug stance
20 Nov 01 | UK Politics
Charity calls for 'relaxed' drug laws
24 Oct 01 | UK Politics
Cannabis laws to be relaxed
19 Feb 02 | England
Police chief's unorthodox approach
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