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Tuesday, 14 May, 2002, 05:37 GMT 06:37 UK
Police to discuss easing drug laws
Heroin and cocaine
Richard Brunstrom said all drugs should be legalised
The case for legalising drugs is to be put to 1,000 front-line police officers during a debate on Tuesday.

North Wales police chief Richard Brunstrom, who believes Britain's fight against drugs is "almost an unqualified disaster", will address delegates at the annual Police Federation conference.

Officers at the event in Bournemouth will also hear from Transform, the campaign for effective drugs policy, and the National Drugs Prevention Alliance.

On Wednesday delegates are expected to give Home Secretary David Blunkett a rough ride over his pay and reform proposals, when he addresses them.

Warning

The debate on whether drug enforcement should be relaxed comes after Mr Brunstrom called for a royal commission on the legalisation of all drugs.

Two weeks ago the Association of Chief Police Officers also suggested a relaxation in certain areas.

It said heroin and cocaine users who commit offences like burglary, theft and street crime while on the drugs should be sent for treatment instead of being prosecuted.

In March the Metropolitan Police said it would continue a scheme in Lambeth whereby people caught in possession of cannabis are let off with a warning.

Booed

Mr Blunkett's appearance on Wednesday is expected to make him the target of officers opposed to his latest pay deal.

He recently admitted to giving in to demands to retain overtime rates.

But the Police Federation, which represents 128,000 officers up to the rank of inspector, says a "significant" number of its members are still "very angry".

The federation had only four working days to assess officers' feelings about the deal before agreeing to it.

The conference will also look at the role of proposed community support officers (CSOs), who will have the power to detain suspects for 30 minutes.

Mr Blunkett's predecessor, Jack Straw, was booed and slow hand-clapped at last year's conference.

See also:

21 Mar 02 | England
Cannabis pilot to continue
28 Apr 02 | UK Politics
'Legalise all drugs' - Mowlam
24 Apr 02 | England
Drugs fuel soaring street crime
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