Examination of Witnesses (Questions 400
TUESDAY 20 NOVEMBER 2001
400. One final quick question you may not be
able to answer because it is still a pilot. Have you any evidence
that the success of your scheme has pushed these dealers out of
Lambeth at all?
(Mr Paddick) No. There is no evidence of any displacement
at all. Unfortunately whilst there is still a market in terms
of people who want to buy these drugs, who have to have these
drugs, there will be the dealers there on the street to supply
401. Would the same policies you are pursuing
on cannabis work if it was applied to ecstasy?
(Mr Paddick) Again, it is very difficult. We get the
slippery slope argument again. Whilst nobody, as far as I know,
has died from one encounter with cannabis, people have died from
one encounter with ecstasy, it is a very emotive subject and so
forth. If I felt that my officers were going into nightclubs looking
for people who were in possession of ecstasy then I would say
to them, and I would say publicly, that they are wasting valuable
402. Broadly the answer is yes, confiscation
rather than prosecution?
(Mr Paddick) Ecstasy, as I said, my understanding
is a more dangerous drug in that some people have a reaction to
it and end up dying.
403. Your answer is still yes because there
are even more dangerous drugs waiting in the wings you would prefer
to concentrate on?
(Mr Paddick) What I would say is that the amount of
time that my police officers spend dealing with ecstasy and tied
up in the custody suite and so forth is very small, therefore
a radical change of the nature that I have introduced regarding
cannabis is not justified.
404. It is very small because you are already
pursuing the same policy towards ecstasy as you are pursuing towards
cannabis in practice?
(Mr Paddick) There is no policy that is published
or articulated by me that says to my officers that I am not interested
in them going out and arresting people for possession of ecstasy.
Officers make up their own mind. They have absolute discretion
under the law.
405. You have said you would be disappointed
if they were wasting, I do not necessarily say wasting their time
but spending a lot of time searching the clubs and pubs of Lambeth
when there are more important things to do?
(Mr Paddick) Absolutely. The only difference is this
is the first time I have publicly said that. I have never said
it to my officers, I have never said it to the media, I have never
said it to anybody before. I would say there are far more important
things which cause real harm to the community in the way that
ecstasy does not cause real harm to the community in Lambeth at
406. And heroin. You heard the question at the
end about shooting galleries?
(Mr Paddick) Yes.
407. For instance, licensed premises where heroin
could be taken without fear of arrest. What would you say to that?
(Mr Paddick) I would be very nervous about it. I would
rather seek to get heroin addicts into formal treatment than I
would to make it easier for them to continue with their chaotic
drug use. It is all very well giving them somewhere safe in which
they can inject but that does not stop them going out mugging
people, breaking into people's property, in order to get the money
to pay for what they are then injecting.
408. That brings us very nicely to Mr Wilkinson.
Mr Wilkinson majors, if I may put it like that, on heroin, do
(Mr Wilkinson) This year, Chairman, yes.
409. You were the Chief Constable of Gwent.
What got you interested in drugs policy?
(Mr Wilkinson) I suppose I have dealt with drugs in
every rank in one way or another, either arresting drug users
as a constable or dealing with drugs policy and more major operations
in chief officer rank. It became increasingly clear to meand
it was a view I expressed privately before retirementthat
the way that we manage the drugs problem increases crime, fails
to make any impact on the drugs business which grows every yearand
grew very quickly in the 1990sso that we, by dint of having
a generally prohibitory problem, have the worst drug problem in
Europe, the worst heroin problem in the Western world but also
the highest level of cannabis use in Europe and even now, with
the latest set of the EMCDDA figures, the highest level of cocaine
use in Western Europe. It was clear to me that the prohibition
policy was a terrible failure. It is because all the police do,
as Brian Paddick has just described, is deal with the end of the
market. Of course it is not all we do, there are people who are
deliberately targeted at the business end of it but their effectiveness
is extremely limited. The police cannot control a business. If
you control the supply of alcohol you do it using Customs and
Excise, Inland Revenue, local magistrates, planning permission
for premises and the police and Health and Safety and just about
all the regulatory agencies you can think of are responsible for
some part of the process or other. The idea that the police alone
can make any impact on a business, on a trade of this scale, we
know it is many billions of pounds a year, is and always has been
unrealistic. This is why the war on drugs is such a bad phrase.
410. What do you say to those such as the spokesperson
for ACPO, who we heard earlier, who said "Ah, yes, but all
these figures show we have the worst in Europe which date from
when we did not have a strategy. We have now got a strategy which
is imperfect but it has been set in place and we should give it
a whirl before we do anything else about it".
(Mr Wilkinson) The strategy had four main outcome
objectives in 1998 and all four of those have moved in the opposite
direction to the one the strategy said it would over the succeeding
four years. There was not a single year in the 1990s when one
could be hopeful about the progress of the drugs problem in this
country. I see absolutely no rational basis for thinking that
might be different in the next three years.
411. Why do you think that ACPO doubts? You
know a lot of chief constables, I imagine?
(Mr Wilkinson) I am very sympathetic to the problems
of the person required to present ACPO's position today. It is
not the job of chief police officers to campaign to change the
criminal law, it is their job to enforce the criminal law. When
I was a chief constable I never spoke publicly about the views
that I held, even though, as you can tell, I held them and hold
them quite strongly. Now that I am retired I am in a position
of being able to do that and I am by no means alone in that.
412. Tell us what you would do in relation to
heroin? Give us a brief summary of the changes you would make,
what you would advise this Committee to recommend in relation
(Mr Wilkinson) Adopt a system which consists of three
parts. There is still some value in maintaining methadone prescription,
even though it is used for less than ten per cent of heroin addicts
in this country and even though it is both much more dangerous
than heroin in terms of fatalities and more addictive in terms
of length of time it takes people to get off it. It does help
some people overcome their psychological addiction and then overcome
the physical addiction in two stages, so I would keep that but
actually buprenorphine is safer and I hope will be introduced
instead of methadone and will result in fewer deaths. The second
is better residential detoxification facilities. It is a constant
complaint, in South Wales very strongly but in other parts of
the country too, that when people want to come off there are no
readily available facilities for them. As a result they hang around
for a bit in this mood of wanting to come off and then they go
back, use the drugs again and by the time some place is available
to them they are not in a mood to be interested. We really do
need to have much more substantial support in that way. Financially
I think that a good case can be made for it. The reason I say
that is because the Swiss, who use those two elements, also use
their third element of prescribing heroin through clinics where
the heroin is consumed on the premises so the dangers of leakage
are minimised, the dangers of over-prescription are almost entirely
removed and there are all the health benefits of doing it that
way. I think they have found, in the usual Swiss precision, that
per patient day in those clinics they save 96 Swiss francs, £10,000
a year per patient. Those savings are in the criminal justice
system because those people are no longer committing crime at
the rate that we know many heroin users do to fund their habits.
I would say that there are three parts to the package. I would
also say in relation to heroin that you will not drive out the
illegal market because you cannot prescribe heroin to young people
who want to try it. There will be a continuing illegal market
in heroin, I am afraid.
413. Do you agree that there will be a big fall
in drug related crime?
(Mr Wilkinson) It cannot be otherwise. Somebody earlier
said we have not got enough data but actually over the last five
years we have gained an enormous amount of fresh data. NTORS was
mentioned earlier, the National Treatment Outcome Research Study,
but the NEW-ADAM data, Home Office sponsored, is enormously powerful.
They have come to the conclusion, as somebody mentioned earlier,
£16,500 is spent by heroin addicts per year on their habits
and the average heroin addict arrested admits to 432 offences
in the previous 12 months compared to an average of 46 for people
who do not use either heroin or crack cocaine. There is very good
evidence from the Widnes experiment. There is evidence from the
United States, which we copied the NEW-ADAM research from, so
there is directly comparable research in the United States, that
about one-third of property crime is caused by these people who
are stealing to feed their habits. You supply those people with
that drug without the necessity to steal and that crime should
414. What do you say to the argument that these
people lead chaotic lifestyles anyway and they were probably criminals
before they got on to heroin and, therefore, their behaviour is
not likely to be affected?
(Mr Wilkinson) There are a lot of prejudices and assumptions
around this area. It is really necessary to look at the findings
out of NEW-ADAM where they conclude
415. From where?
(Mr Wilkinson) From the NEW-ADAM, the New England
and Wales Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring.
416. Thank you, that was a very brave attempt.
This is an area riven with acronyms.
(Mr Wilkinson) Trevor Bennett at the Institute of
Criminology at the University of Cambridge, funded by the Home
Office, all available on the Home Office website.
417. What does he say, in a nutshell?
(Mr Wilkinson) I have almost forgotten the question
418. What do you say to those who say that heroin
addicts lead chaotic lifestyles and were probably criminals before
they started using?
(Mr Wilkinson) Some of them had previous convictions,
others did not. There is a group of them for whom their heroin
use started before they were arrested for any crime. It is the
facts that are important here. There are people like that. Certainly
it is the case that some of the people who take up heroin use
are people who have already committed crimes but after they start
using heroin and lose their jobs they commit a lot more crimes,
and that is a firm conclusion of the NEW-ADAM research.
419. What do you say to the argument that legalisation
would lead to an increase in drug users and a consequential rise
in some crimes, which comes from the Police Federation survey?
(Mr Wilkinson) Again, broad statements are made, are
they not, without any evidential basis. One has to distinguish
between different drugs. In this country we have the most rampant
heroin problem in the Western World. We also have the most prohibitory
regime in Europe, perhaps with the exception of Sweden which does
not have a problem of any size. It seems clear that the two are
not linked because in Switzerland and in the Netherlands, where
they prescribe heroin, and the Netherlands have done for many
years, in Switzerland it has been in a trial for the last nine
years, heroin use has declined in the same period and the average
age of the heroin addict has increased. In Britain heroin use
is increasing and the average age is getting younger. Indeed,
the EMCDDA have said heroin use is declining in Europe except
for the United Kingdom. We are the people who got it wrong. It
is a blanket approach of prohibition and only methadone that has
largely done it.