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Tuesday, 26 March, 2002, 17:07 GMT
Lambeth 'wants Paddick back'
Commander Brian Paddick
Commander Paddick says he has no regrets
Residents of Lambeth are demanding the reinstatement of controversial police commander Brian Paddick.

The 43-year-old was moved from his job as the borough's police chief following allegations about his private life in two Sunday newspapers.

The Metropolitan Police Authority recommended that Mr Paddick be moved to a much less high profile administrative role at Scotland Yard.

Mr Paddick said he was "disappointed" at having to leave Lambeth where he has pioneered a "softly-softly" approach to cannabis in the Brixton area.

Cannabis leaf: Possession of cannabis in Lambeth is not prosecuted
Lambeth residents welcomed the move on cannabis
Now residents' groups, community campaigners and religious leaders are meeting with police officers at Lambeth Town Hall in Brixton, south London, on Tuesday, to call for his return.

A spokeswoman for the Lambeth Community And Police Consultative Group said the meeting had been called to reflect the "huge interest" in Mr Paddick's case.

"Most of the community say he is the best police chief they have ever had here - and they want him back in Lambeth," she told BBC News Online.

The public meeting will be addressed by Lee Jasper, race adviser to the London mayor, Shane Collins of the Green Party, as well as members of the National Black Police Association and the Lesbian And Gay Police Association.

Warning

Mr Paddick says he has been targeted because of his introduction of new ideas and ways of policing, but has no regrets about his uncompromising stance.

He says his opponents are angry about his decision not to arrest people holding small amounts of cannabis - but the policy is too popular and effective to attack.

Mr Paddick insists he is against drug taking, and says his decision was taken purely because of the need to concentrate police resources on the fight against the use of hard drugs like cocaine and heroin.

Mr Paddick had been spearheading a police experiment on cannabis, where those in possession of small amounts of the drug are given a warning and have the drug confiscated, rather than being prosecuted.

The police have said it is still too early to make a definitive evaluation of the success of the scheme.

But a study by the Police Foundation found the trial was supported by 83% of Lambeth residents.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens said the scheme will continue in Lambeth, but will not be extended to other areas of London at the moment.

See also:

23 Mar 02 | England
Paddick 'victim of anti-gay press'
21 Mar 02 | England
Cannabis pilot to continue
21 Mar 02 | England
Public back cannabis trial
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