Select Committee on Home Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1160 - 1179)



  1160. What effect do you think legalising or prescribing drugs would have on destroying or undermining the illegal market for the drug barons?
  (Mr Broughton) I think we talked about what happened in North America with alcohol prohibition. Gangsters will be gangsters, they will develop according to what the market tells them. If there is any form of legalisation in relation to cannabis there will still be a market. If you state manufacture cannabis and legalise cannabis you would be saying, not for children, and then there will be a criminal market for children. It is a self fulfilling circle, that those who exploit the situations will continue to exploit them.
  (Mr Raynes) There is one other point that might be interesting for you, if the Home Secretary's suggestion that cannabis is down graded to class C succeeds and the maximum penalty is five years, the maximum penalty for tobacco is seven years. Customs has already stopped—a policy I disagree with—targeting major cannabis traffickers, so it is open house on cannabis now. Some of the paramilitaries in Northern Ireland use tobacco smuggling and/or cannabis funding as their prime source of funding. There have been some huge seizures of cigarettes on ships off Northern Ireland.


  1161. Tobacco funding is to avoid tax?
  (Mr Raynes) It is smuggling. If cannabis is down graded to class C and the maximum penalty is five years you can expect more people to be smuggling cannabis. The smugglers are not commodity driven, apart from, possibly, heroin, for the rest of it they are not commodity driven, they smuggle what they have a market for, and they moved into tobacco in a big way four years ago. Customs are dealing with that and it is having some success. We can expect if cannabis is down graded, it is probably already happening because of the signals that have gone out, more criminals to be involved in cannabis because nobody will be targeting them.

Mr Malins

  1162. On the issue of drugs and crime—I sit as a judge in a lot of criminal courts round the London area—my experience of nearly all acquisitive crime, burglary, theft and nonviolent, at least 70 per cent of is it is driven by the need to acquire property to sell property to raise money for heroin. Any comment on that?
  (Mr Raynes) Mr Howard says here, "Most people's criminal careers started well before their drug use. These people were engaged in criminal behaviour well before...."


  1163. Which Mr Howard are we talking about?
  (Mr Raynes) Roger Howard from DrugsScope. I think that is right, a lot of people are involved in crime and drugs are part of their lifestyle.

  1164. It is heroin for non-violent crime, by and large.
  (Mr Raynes) Heroin is mainly shoplifting, not domestic burglary, which does not produce enough money any more.
  (Mr Broughton) I am reluctant to answer your question honestly because we are encouraged not to stereotype in the Police Service, but it is clear that you can categorise certain crimes in certain numbers to certain types of drug users. It is a dangerous track to follow because there is always the example that will go against that, that is why stereotyping is not a great thing. There is some truth in that, what crack users, cannabis users and heroin users and the sort of crime that you can indicate they do seem to fall into certain categories.

  1165. The question on sentencing, my impression is that successive Governments do their best but they are up against it in terms of actually—curing is the wrong word—the drug addict's problem, without some sort of compulsion in the sentencing the existing government policy on sentencing, and the previous Government's, is not going to get us very far. Is there anything in that?
  (Mr Broughton) I do not know whether you were out of the room when I was talking about what the UK Drugs Policy tries to do, enforcement, punishment and treatment, and getting those co-ordinated in terms of how the magistrate or the Crown Court can deal with it, what the options are to divert people from drugs or attempt to treat them or attempt to try to solve some of the root of the problems of this, which I think is a very sound policy. On the issue of resourcing, and there always is the issue about how much money and how much resources, there is an issue of how much policing there is involved in this. We are living in a city where we have had a reduction in the number of police officers and an increase in some of the problems of drugs. You could look at that equation and wonder why we have got to reduce the number of police officers in this city. The issue about resources and how much effort we put in to try to solve this problem is the critical issue. The academic debate about this is one thing but what is going to happen in practice is, for me, the important part.

David Winnick

  1166. Mr Raynes, I want to ask you first of all regarding the view that you put forward in your memorandum where you say "The most articulate forces for change have a metropolitan base and are often connected with the media". Why have you come to that view?
  (Mr Raynes) Observation over the last 12 or 18 months, I think. One would believe that there is a major—


  1167. A little bit of stereotyping here perhaps?
  (Mr Raynes) Unlike the police I found stereotyping very useful. So have the police but they have been told to ignore it and I have retired. There is supposedly a debate raging. Peter Stoker has done a graph, which I do not think we have given to you, of public opinion on cannabis and what events have changed it. We have got this graph going off the chart now. If you ask people do they want cannabis legalised 60 per cent of people say yes, whereas 18 months ago they did not. There are a lot of events that have gone into that: the Police Foundation Report, more media debate. I do my best, and Peter Stoker does his best, to appear on balanced tv programmes and discussions and so on, but quite often we are overwhelmed by the numbers against us. I think we often feel that we are being put in just to give an impression of balance but there is no real balance there. There are certain members of the Police Foundation, Simon Jenkins is one, who I disagree with fundamentally. We see what he writes in the paper and there are other people. The media are tilting the debate about cannabis a lot of the time. It is my own observation, and we could produce press cuttings for you and so on, but I do not think the public at large are asking for that because drug users are such a minority of the population, it is the media and it is a campaign and debate largely being conducted within the media.

  1168. What would you say really, without putting it in too melodramatic terms? I will not use plot or conspiracy because you do not. You say in effect, am I not right, Mr Raynes, that it is not really a matter which affects the rest of the country, there is no pressure for change, it comes from a narrow, if you like London, at most south east, base and if it was not for those people, the media and perhaps the liberal or left-wing newspapers, there would be no pressure for change at all?
  (Mr Raynes) I am not saying that there would be none but it would be considerably less. Who speaks for the parents? Who speaks for the Parent Teacher Associations? Most parents say they do not want their children to use drugs, they are not appearing in front of you. There is a huge number of people out in the population who do not want their kids to use drugs and want all the help that society can give them to keep them off drugs, but who is speaking for them? We are trying to speak for them today.


  1169. Some of us are parents of school age children.
  (Mr Raynes) You know the concerns. We all have those concerns. There are an awful lot of people out there who are not familiar with the media and do not represent themselves and do not articulate their feelings in the media.

David Winnick

  1170. The Daily Telegraph gave a favourable response to the Police Foundation Report. Would you put the Daily Telegraph also amongst the media people, because obviously it is media, eager for change?
  (Mr Raynes) One does not often think of the Daily Telegraph like that but the Police Foundation Report, for me, did not have enough science in it. I think Mary wants to come in.

  1171. If I can just carry on with Mr Raynes, I will come on to the other witnesses. When you talk about a metropolitan pressure I notice in your evidence you say you attended the Cleveland Police Authority.
  (Mr Raynes) Yes.

  1172. We have had a letter, as a matter of fact, circulated very recently with our papers from the Cleveland Police Authority, which presumably are not part of the metropolitan set-up in London?
  (Mr Raynes) No.

  1173. Geographically that would be rather difficult. They say, in effect, that the drug policy is simply not working. They argue for substantial changes, not necessarily full legislation but certainly for substantial changes in the law. Would you say, therefore, this is simply an exception to the pressure from the metropolitan people?
  (Mr Raynes) It is one of the exceptions, yes. I told you about the doctor who wrote the paper which has gone to ACPO, he did not understand that you could actually get a licence to prescribe heroin. He was on a platform with Danny Kushlik and, in fact, Danny Kushlik of Transform had to correct him—extraordinary. I do not agree with the Cleveland Police Authority and, in fact, the Cleveland Police Authority, who ran that conference, are not unanimous about it. There are some members of the Cleveland Police Authority who feel very strongly that they have gone down the wrong route. In fact, the NDPA has written to them and offered to do a presentation to them. It was not unanimous. It was the Police Authority and they were acting on information given to them by the Chief Constable and others.

  1174. It is a Police Authority obviously putting forward a point of view somewhat outside of London and the South East area.
  (Mr Raynes) Yes.

  1175. We have had evidence, and I will come to Mr Broughton in a moment because no doubt he will wish to comment, from organisations representing senior police officers, certainly not confined to the metropolitan area, who argue that, in fact, there is a case for change in the law and moreover former chief constables. Are they also part of the metropolitan set-up?
  (Mr Raynes) Mr Wilkinson is atypical, the ex-Chief Constable of Gwent, he is one of them. I do not know whether he has appeared before you but he has written two pamphlets.

Mr Cameron

  1176. He did.
  (Mr Raynes) Has he appeared? Right. I have appeared on a platform and debated with Mr Wilkinson. He is not typical of chief constables. When I was Assistant Chief Investigation Officer I had nine chief constables I had liaison with and he was the only one of my nine who spoke in the way that he did, that was at the time that I was in post, and then he retired. I do not think the present Chief Constable of Gwent feels like him. I cannot speak for him but I do not think he accepts Mr Wilkinson's views. Mr Wilkinson wants legalisation of all drugs, legalisation, free availability over the counter as I understand it. That is a pretty extreme view and there are one or two MPs who think that.

David Winnick

  1177. He does not come from the metropolitan area.
  (Mr Raynes) He does not, no, but the point in my submission was about the media debate that has been a manufactured media debate and that is largely driven by the metropolitan area.

  1178. Can I put this to you, Mr Raynes, and I hope you do not mind me putting it in such terms. Do you not feel that you would have strengthened your case against any changes in the law if you had not given the impression that this is a metropolitan move or pressure from the metropolitan part of the world, London based? There are many people up and down the country who believe that the law as such is not working and, although you disagree with them, what I am saying is would it not have strengthened your case in arguing for the status quo if you had not given the impression that there is a plot simply from some people in the media in the London area?
  (Mr Raynes) I did not say there was a plot but there are a lot of people joined together in presenting things as public opinion and I do not believe it is public opinion. You have got to understand that the legalise drugs lobby is very, very well financed, enormously well financed, by one of the richest men in the world.

  David Winnick: You are giving the impression of a plot now.


  1179. Name him.
  (Mr Raynes) I did not say the media. The media event is not a plot but there is a plot and orchestration in the legalise drugs campaign internationally, there is no doubt about that. They are going through a series of events—normalise it, legalise it, decriminalise it—in steps.

  Mr Cameron: Who is providing the money?

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