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Last Updated: Monday, 15 October 2007, 12:40 GMT 13:40 UK
'Legalise drugs' report supported

North Wales Police Authority has backed a review of drug laws after its chief constable urged legalisation.

Richard Brunstrom asked the authority to back his calls to scrap current laws, legalise most drugs and bring in a new system to control them.

While it agreed to support the report - to go to the Home Secretary as part of UK-wide consultation - it did not say current laws should be scrapped.

A senior police officers' body called legalisation "a counsel of despair".

Mr Brunstrom called the fight against drugs unwinnable but said he did not want "an anarchic free-for-all".

He said there was a battle with "the flat earthers" who refused to look at the evidence suggesting drugs laws need a radical change.

Albert Owen
I think he's not just thinking outside the box, he's just simply wrong
Albert Owen MP

The chief constable said his report was not a "crusade or proactive - it is a response based on a degree of radicalism".

The authority agreed that his report should go to the UK Government and the Welsh Assembly Government, which is about to conduct its own drugs consultation.

It also said there should be a review of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, with the possible replacement of a Misuse of Substances Act regulating all drugs, including nicotine and alcohol based on a new hierarchy of harm.

The authority further agreed to consider affiliation with the lobby group Transform Drug Policy Foundation.

Before the meeting, Plaid Cymru AM Leanne Wood told BBC Wales' Politics Show that Mr Brunstrom was right to raise the issue.

'Not fit for purpose'

Ms Wood, a former probation officer, said she agreed with the chief constable that the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 was "not fit for purpose".

She also agreed with his view that the UK's drugs strategy was "unwinnable".

"I've seen myself how people are just recycled through the system," she said.

Richard Brunstrom
Richard Brunstrom says he doesn't want 'an anarchic free-for-all'
"They go to prison, they come out of prison, they end up continuing using drugs and continuing breaking the law, and that has to change.

"I think Richard Brunstrom is doing some thinking outside the box on this, which is long overdue," she added.

But Anglesey MP Albert Owen had said he hoped the authority would reject Mr Brunstrom's recommendations.

"I think he's not just thinking outside the box, he's just simply wrong," he said.

"We should have a three-pronged attack which is education, crime enforcement, which is prohibition of hard drugs and also rehabilitation."

'Counsel of despair'

Last week Mr Brunstrom's views were criticised by Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami who said claiming legalising heroin was the only way forward was "blinkered and dangerous".

Alyn and Deeside AM Carl Sergeant said a more sustainable solution would be to tackle the causes of drug abuse.

Earlier, a spokeswoman for Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) which represents 44 UK police authorities, said Mr Brunstrom was entitled to his personal views.

"Acpo does not agree with the repeal of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 or the legalisation of drugs - this is arguably a counsel of despair."

She added: "Moving to total legalisation would, in our view, greatly exacerbate the harm to people in this country, not reduce it.

"It simply does not make sense to legitimise dangerous narcotic substances which would then have the potential to ruin even more lives and our neighbourhoods."

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