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Tuesday, 14 May, 2002, 06:09 GMT 07:09 UK
Police chief focus of drugs debate
North Wales's outspoken police chief is due to take part in a Police Federation debate on the issue of legalising drugs.

Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom has previously been criticised for saying he saw no problem with legalisation - so long as drug habits were not funded by crimes.

cannabis user
Mr Brunstrom believes drugs themselves are not the problem

He is expected to once again outline his controversial views at the federation's annual conference in Bournemouth on Tuesday.

Highlighting the growth of "recreational drug" use, Mr Brunstrom has said he believes problems with drugs are caused by the UK legal system.

As public opinion moves ahead of the law, Mr Brunstrom said the law enforcement traditional battle against drug-taking has already been lost.

In December last year, he told North Wales Police Authority that the Royal Commission should investigate the possibility of legalising some drugs.

He has previously compared the UK's drug policy to that of America's alcohol prohibition in the 1920s.

If they (drugs) were treated differently...much of the misery, harm and adverse impact on health could be swept away

Richard Brunstrom, Chief Constable North Wales Police

And in an interview for Channel 4 News in March, Mr Brunstrom said: "If you're not mugging old ladies and not stealing from shops and not stealing cars, what actually is the problem?

"Why shouldn't you be taking drugs? Why are these things illegal? What was the purpose behind it?

"We have the harshest drugs laws in Europe and by far the worst drug abuse problem - so we haven't got it right, and in my view we are losing the war.

"There is no doubt at all that there is an appalling toll of human misery caused by the misuse of drugs in the current environment.

"My proposition is that much of that is caused by their illegality and not by the drugs.

"If they were treated differently by our legal system it's quite possible that much of the misery, much of the harm, much of the adverse impact on health could be swept away."

He said UK drug laws were highly "illogical", as some seriously damaging substances were legal.

A prominent north Wales MP attending the conference has expressed his opposition to the views of the chief constable.

Elfyn Llwyd, parliamentary leader of Plaid Cymru, said Mr Brunstrom's pro-legalisation line "sent out the wrong message."

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