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Drug Laws

syringe of heroin
BBC Radio 4's Law In Action
Tuesday 24 July 1600 GMT
On Radio 4 and online
It's an unpalatable fact that the UK has the highest level of dependent drug use, and among the highest level of recreational drug use in Europe.

Our drug problem worsened steadily during the 70's, 80's and 90's and yet the drug laws which are largely governed by The Misuse of Drugs Act, is now 36 years old.

When the Act came into force in 1971, there were a just few thousand heroin users in the UK. It's now estimated that there are more than 280,000 in England and 50,000 in Scotland.

Tomorrow, (July 25th), the Home Office publishes its new long term strategy on drugs, and on today's programme we examine whether our current laws and criminal justice system are working effectively?

Joining Clive to discuss that are: Danny Kushlick is the Director of the Drugs Charity, Transform, a think tank committed to reform of the current laws and policy on drugs; Diane Mark is chair of the bench at Wimbledon Magistrates Court and Paul Hayes is head of the National Treatment Agency, a body created by the Government in 2001 to ensure that there is more, better and fairer treatment available to all who need it.

Other contributors to the programme:

Professor Colin Blakemore, Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council,

"Paul," a former drug addict and offender,

Greg Foxsmith, a criminal lawyer working in London,

Deputy-Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police, Howard Roberts (and also representing the Association of Chief Police officers on drugs issues),

The Drugs Minister, Vernon Coker, declined to take part.



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