Select Committee on Home Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 620 - 622)



  620. They were made to do bad things.
  (Professor Strang) Your original question was: is drug policy failing? In a way I think it is almost the wrong question because one is tempted always to point out aspects where policies are failing. You really want to know whether it could do better.

  621. Just focus on this heroin and legalising or decriminalising it. It is true that there is a very small number of heroin users relatively speaking, but they are responsible for about 60 per cent of acquisitive crime and that is the thing you would be aiming at. You have been talking about the effect on the patient most of the time, but there is another side to this argument.
  (Professor Strang) If I may come back to the point I think you were making earlier on, it is not just crime. It is a pity that crime does now dominate the House of Commons debate about the issue.

  622. It dominates the lives of many of our constituents, that is why. It is the biggest single issue.
  (Professor Strang) Indeed. But there is also a huge health toll to the drug users themselves, their families and the wider community and they are also your constituents. I am only saying the health toll stands alongside the crime cost. It is not noticed as much, but it is still massive. You are right. What you are wanting to do is to look at finding better ways in which we could unlock the drug problem from the consequences. Can you unlock the drug/crime link so that it is either not there or less of a drive? And similarly can you , unlock the drug/HIV or the drug/hepatitis C link?. There we can do a lot to contribute to that which does not involve just saying that alcohol or tobacco are wonderful role models. As peacetime drugs, alcohol and tobacco are not very impressive examples to be honest.

  Chairman: Gentlemen, it has been a very—if I may use the word in a context we understand—stimulating discussion. You have kept us here well over our normal time. I am very grateful to you. Should any points occur to you after you have gone away, do not hesitate to get in touch with us and draw our attention to them. The session is closed. Thank you very much.

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