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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 February, 2004, 17:53 GMT
Brunstrom: Road to controversy
Richard Brunstrom
Controversial: North Wales Police Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom
North Wales Police Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom is probably the most controversial senior police officer in Britain at the present time.

The 49-year-old has once again stepped into the headlines by telling the BBC that he is prepared to see drugs such as heroin openly on sale because current drug laws are doing "more harm than good".

It is not the first time his views, particularly on drugs, crime and speed cameras, have thrust him into the public eye.

Since he took over the top post at North Wales Police in January 2001, he has perhaps become best known for his determination to crack down on speeding drivers.

We literally can't do everything - it's a question of priorities
Richard Brunstrom

In a 25-year career in policing - he joined Sussex Police after graduating in zoology from the University of Wales, Bangor - it is something about which he has strong feelings.

He is head of road policing for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and believes he is saving lives. He believes that people who claim they accidentally drift well over the speed limit cannot always be excused.

His views led him to call a media conference last summer to criticise the driving actions of a 71-year-old retired bank manager who had complained about his zero-tolerance policy.

His force's standards committee later said it had "concerns about the principle" of the move, but decided not to investigate the episode.

Richard Brunstrom and a speed camera
On camera: Mr Brunstrom feels strongly about speeding drivers

Like any chief constable, Mr Brunstrom has worked his way through the ranks.

After 11 years in Sussex, he moved to Greater Manchester Police as a superintendent, where he was regularly in charge of policing at Manchester United and Manchester City football games.

In 1995, he became assistant chief constable in Cleveland and was later promoted to deputy chief constable.

He joined North Wales Police in December 2000, taking over from Michael Argent as chief constable a month later.

He says he loves working in north Wales as all his hobbies involve mountains, coasts and the sea .

He adds that his most satisfying achievement with the force was gaining an A-grade pass in Welsh at A-level.

He blames much of his controversy on interest and lobby groups, including sections of the media, whom he maintains are determined to misrepresent his sometimes unconventional approach to social problems.

'Seize the day'

In addition to leading North Wales Police, he is also responsible for the drug treatment systems for Wales' three other forces.

He says his greatest challenge as a chief constable is in getting the resources that he has available to stretch as far as possible.

But his favourite saying is "carpe diem" (Latin for 'seize the day') and he has shown he is prepared to come up with radical solutions to some long-term problems.

On his force's own website, he says: "Public demand for police services is infinite, but we have limited resources.

"However many demands the government makes on us, we literally can't do everything. It's a question of priorities."

Brunstrom told to 'get a grip'
08 Aug 03  |  North West Wales
Police chief backs US approach
29 Nov 02  |  Wales

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