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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 February, 2004, 11:00 GMT
Police chief says legalise heroin
Richard Brunstrom
Mr Brunstrom's opinions on drugs have made headline news before
North Wales Police Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom says he is prepared to see drugs such as heroin openly on sale because current drug laws are doing "more harm than good".

Speaking on BBC Wales' Dragon's Eye political programme, Mr Brunstrom described drugs as a menace and said that current policy was creating crime around massive illegal profits and putting vulnerable people in danger.

"Heroin is a very, very addictive substance, extremely addictive, far more so than nicotine, but it's not very, very dangerous. It's perfectly possible to lead a normal life for a full life span and hold down a job while being addicted to heroin.

"I don't advocate anybody abusing their body with drugs but clearly some want to. What would be wrong with making heroin available on the state for people who wanted to abuse their bodies. What is wrong with that?"

Mr Brunstrom believes that legalising drugs would wipe out a multi-million pound criminal trade and says he has been amazed to receive "massive" public support for his views.

I've had overwhelming support for a no-holds barred, all-options considered, total review of the drugs laws

Richard Brunstrom
"The question is actually not 'am I prepared to see the government selling heroin on the street corner or through the pharmacy?' But why would we not want to do that? What is wrong with that?" he said.

"It's a very challenging question. I don't know what society's answer is but my answer is that is what we should be doing because our current policy is causing more harm than good."

In reference to the public backing he says he has received, he went on: "I've had overwhelming support at the very least for a no-holds barred, all-options considered, total review of the drugs laws.

"There is an enormous number of people of all age groups and all sections of our society who are ready to see a root and branch change to our drugs laws."

The chief constable - who has been heavily criticised over his crackdown on speeding motorists - insisted he is not supporting the drug trade - cannabis, he said, was not a safe drug and heroin was "extremely addictive".

But, he said drugs should be legalised adding that there was nothing wrong with the idea that the government could take over responsibility for their sale.

The police chief's unconventional view on drugs emerged in 2001 when he told his police authority that it was the only way to win the war against drugs.

He said that, despite billions of pounds and thousands of officer hours, the number of addicts and "recreational users" of illegal drugs in the UK has multiplied at an alarming rate.

Mr Brunstrom compared the current situation with alcohol prohibition in the USA in the 1920s, which was an "unmitigated disaster".

You can see Dragon's Eye on Thursday at 2030 GMT on BBC 2W, and at 2230 GMT on BBC 1 Wales.

The BBC's Wyre Davies
"He's saying heroin should be legally sold on the streets"

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29 Nov 02  |  Wales

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