Select Committee on Home Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1180 - 1199)



David Winnick

  1180. Organised by who precisely?
  (Mr Raynes) The Lindeman Foundation in the US. Mr Soros has been a great funder of legalisation and one tried to find out why and somebody said he thinks he has been put on earth to be God. I do not know why, I do not see what is in it for him. There is an international orchestrated campaign, yes.

  1181. Outside the metropolitan area?
  (Mr Raynes) International, yes.

  1182. International.
  (Mr Raynes) In the country at large in the UK I do not think that exists. There is a little bit in the North West, in the Liverpool-Manchester axis where I used to work. There is a little bit coming out of Liverpool. The Lifeline event that you have heard about is in—

  1183. Can you send us some documentation on this?
  (Mr Raynes) I think you have probably already documented it because we have given you some literature this morning.

  1184. There is not anything about what you have just told us.
  (Mr Raynes) On what?

  1185. On the international pressure, the person that you mentioned.
  (Mr Raynes) I think we have already given you that. We have got that.

  1186. We have not, but be that as it may.
  (Mr Raynes) We have given you a large volume of evidence this morning which is supplemented by the questions.

  1187. I thought you would want to give us more documentation about this internationally.
  (Mr Raynes) We can certainly do it. We can certainly put papers to you about the Soros funding.

  1188. It would be useful for us to check. If I can come to Mr Broughton for a moment. We have had evidence from a number of senior police officers, not least Commander Brian Paddick, who argued pretty strongly for some change in the law in so far as he was able to do so as a serving police officer. Are you saying to us, Mr Broughton, that that view and the view of the associations representing senior police officers is out of tune with the large majority of your own members?
  (Mr Broughton) No. I watched on the Parliamentary Channel Superintendent Paddick's contribution to you and I think he had Mr Wilkinson with him as well. By the way, before he became the Chief Constable of a Welsh force Mr Wilkinson was a longstanding Metropolitan Police officer and ended up, just to help you with the conspiracy theory,—
  (Mr Raynes) There is no conspiracy here by the way.

  1189. The plot deepens minute by minute.
  (Mr Broughton) He was the staff officer to Sir Kenneth Newman in charge of policy during that time. Do not let the facts get in the way of a good argument. I have lost the track now. I have forgotten what your question was.

  1190. Whether the large majority of your members feel—
  (Mr Broughton) I watched with interest Superintendent Paddick's contribution and he went further than he thought he would under your scrutiny and spoke about Ecstasy. I have heard him use the expression "why should I worry as police commander in this area if youngsters are popping pills in nightclubs". This is hugely controversial stuff when you look at the deaths of young people from Ecstasy and some of the injuries and illnesses that are related to Ecstasy use in nightclubs. I go back to what I said earlier, that there are 200 or 300 police officers going through pretty intense questioning on a questionnaire in relation to exactly what Superintendent Paddick's policy is in Lambeth. I think it is going to be a good exercise, looking at crime, looking at drugs, looking at frequency of drugs, looking at the quality of life in that area and what is going on there, and then hearing exactly the practicalities of how this policy is being implemented, what police officers feel about it, what is the perceived attitude of those who are using drugs. There is some interesting stuff coming through about that. Basically "you can't touch us, we have only got cannabis" is one of the issues that is coming through. I think that analysis will give us good evidence and some good information in relation to whether that is working or not. There is a huge social issue about what Superintendent Paddick said. What Mr Wilkinson was saying in relation to him being an ex-chief officer and talking about total legalisation and talking about taking it out of the criminal market is way over the top. I think all of us can debate that but, again, what does it practically mean and how on earth is it going to operate, what are the health issues and what are the social implications of such a policy? This is a debate in itself. What other people have said to you, what the Association of Chief Police Officers has said to you, I cannot remember the detail in terms of they are radical changes. I think what we are saying from a practitioner's point of view is if people are making suggestions or looking at options then our job is to enforce these laws and to understand how that is going to work in practice. I think that is the position to come from and try to end with. We have been desperately looking at solutions, all of us in the police service who have a passion for community, and that is what policing is trying to help to build on. Know the damage that has been done by the drug culture. The solutions, as radical as some might be, have to be based on the practicalities of how they are going to operate and how you make some sense of them. Just as an aside, when I went to Holland someone described to me how the coffee shops operate, how much weight they can carry, how much weight of cannabis some individual can take away, and then I went to the police station and talked that through with the people who were supervising that and I said "Where does this cannabis come from? How does that cannabis get to the coffee shop?" and they shrugged their shoulders. I asked "What is the answer to that question?" and they could not logically go through the way cannabis arrives at the coffee shop. I said "This is a nonsense, how on earth do you police this?" and they shrugged their shoulders. That is not something that I relish happening in this country, a shrug of shoulders about a criminal chain of cannabis arriving at some retail centre which has been decriminalised, there is no logic in it.

  1191. I understand what you are saying about feedback from your members, Mr Broughton, but, can I ask you, obviously the police officers in the Lambeth area would be members of your organisation in the main but have any of those police officers said to you, in writing or orally, that they disagree and find objectionable the policy that is now operated in that part of London, namely, if you like, to a large extent turning a blind eye to those who do not supply but use a small amount of cannabis? Have any protested to you?
  (Mr Broughton) No, that is not the way this has gone. What has been happening is we have been talking personally to officers, we have been talking to those who represent local officers, and trying to find out exactly what the feeling is. There is a mixed reaction, of course there is. There are some people who think this is a very good idea, there are others who think it is a very bad idea and there are others who are seeing whether it can work or not. When I repeat about the opinion survey that is going on in Lambeth in relation to police officers, that is going to be very good evidence. I do not know whether that is going to be made public but certainly within the police service we need to make sure we understand what has gone on there and how it is being operated and if there are going to be legislation changes as a result of that and as a result of this Committee's work then we are going to be arguing that case must be argued on the floor of Parliament to find out whether or not these are good or bad ideas. These are major changes to what is going on at the moment and, as I say, every time it is being discussed the signals go out, confused signals, to people as to whether it is a good idea or a bad idea to use drugs at all.

  1192. Of course, whether policy is going to be substantially changed is a matter, and must be, for Parliament, but the reaction that you got from officers in Lambeth seems to be, does it not, much the same as it would be amongst the civilian population, some feel it is okay, some disagree, some are neither here nor there? It does not seem to me that the police officers who are operating this policy in the last few months really are any different from the rest of the people in Lambeth or perhaps other parts of the country, in other words there is no unanimous point or view, and far from it, amongst your members.
  (Mr Broughton) Lambeth is a very different place from many other boroughs. Lambeth is a place where there have been a number of very difficult situations in relation to stop-search, for instance. Dealing with the African-Caribbean community in relation to stop-search has been a very crucial local issue to discuss. Lots of people within Lambeth were quite pleased the police were going to step back from the confrontational issue of stop-search in relation to cannabis. There is a political dimension to some of this stuff as well. Police officers are telling me that now they are walking down streets in Brixton and people are openly smoking cannabis and looking at police officers walking by and saying "this is now okay".

  1193. In a provocative way?
  (Mr Broughton) It is actually not okay in relation to that local policy. The policy is not to ignore the personal use of cannabis, it is to seize it, to take names and addresses and the rest, but this policy becomes part of folklore in the end and it develops. Police officers are telling us there is confusion there and there needs to be clarity. If you move from Lambeth to adjoining boroughs and there is a different policy then that is a recipe for confusion as well.

  1194. I must apologise, Mrs Brett, you were going to intervene at some stage but I wanted to continue the questions to Mr Raynes. Do you want to intervene?
  (Mrs Brett) I think it was about the Police Foundation Report. You mentioned Simon Jenkins, the Chief Executive of Lifeline, the leaflet I showed you at the very beginning was on that committee. Some say it had nothing to do with the police but there were two policemen on it, although obviously it was not a police committee. One of them was very impressed by a guided tour of the coffee shops in Amsterdam. There was one scientist on that committee who was a psycho-pharmacologist and I think you have taken evidence from him, Professor Nutt from Bristol. There was only one scientist, there were no neurologists, as Professor Greenfield is, there were no biologists, no people who actually know how drugs work on brain cells and cause all these harmful things. There was not one single person, and they admitted this, who came from a previous anti-drugs stance, there was no-one deliberately way on the other side, say, to Simon Jenkins.
  (Mr Raynes) There was no balance. That would be our position. There is one thing I would like to say about Superintendent Paddick, the one thing that concerns me about that announcement was the way it was made public on the day before a cannabis march, that is in my written evidence, I thought that was manipulation of the highest order. He did not need to do that. The policy was already working. He did not need to change the public perception, that is one of my concerns, why it was done. I question whether the Metropolitan Police Commissioner knew it was going to be made. I have some real concerns there. Was Superintendent Paddick under control at the time, I doubt it?

Angela Watkinson

  1195. Following on from the prescription of heroin, I do not know if you have had evidence from the Dutch or Swiss trials and the results from them. Would you agree that maintenance of a heroin tablet is the removal of personal responsibility for the addict and put on wider society and it destroys any incentive to come off the habit? Somebody who has maintained a habit is not leading a normal life, if they are having to inject several times a day they are not leading a normal life and their behaviour changes according to how close they are to needing another fix. In terms of the effect on other people do you feel that maintenance alone can ever be justified or should there always be an attempt to cure, otherwise do you see this as the opposite of drug prevention?
  (Mr Broughton) That sounds all to me to be fairly true. I think if you take away responsibility in relation to maintenance you probably need to do more to try and encourage them to understand what is going on in their life. My thoughts on this are that when you observe that group, whether or not they come into police custody or whether or not you observe them in the misery of the circumstances they find themselves in is they are in a cycle of decline, an obvious deteriorating position, which I think society itself needs to understand and try and resolve and try and produce some form of assistance or help. The only credible solution that I have heard is some form of secure heroin maintenance programme without leakage. It is very important to say without leakage, because if you are prescribing heroin to people then we know, and David is absolutely right, this group of people will manipulate that system as best they can. It needs to be a secure system without leakage. It seems to me that is the opportunity to try and support that group and try to divert them from that way of life. That seems to me to be the only solution that seems to be on the table. All other solutions in terms of criminal prosecution and going to prison are in place at the moment. That group, I have not got the details of how big this group is, it is quite an interesting exercise to try and compare year-on-year whether this particular group of heroin addicts is growing or being maintained, I would be interested in those numbers, again my perception is that this is a group which is fairly stable in numbers and is a particular group which can be dealt with almost in isolation. I take your point. I think the points round this are very valid. I was trying come to solutions and it is much more difficult to come to solutions in this area.

  Angela Watkinson: Thank you.


  1196. Mr Raynes, what is wrong with open-ended maintenance of heroin addicts if this was proven to improve the health of the addicts and to lead to a reduction in crime?
  (Mr Raynes) Would it lead to a reduction in crime? The evidence from a doctor that prescribed a lot of heroin in Liverpool is that for a time it did lead to a reduction in crime but, of course, Liverpool has one of the highest crime rates in the United Kingdom.

  1197. If you obtained your heroin in controlled circumstances would you not need to burgle to get the money to fund the habit?
  (Mr Raynes) I am not totally against giving people heroin to get them off open-ended maintenance. If you come at this from two directions, if you come at what is good for the individual you go to open-ended maintenance with hope you will be able to persuade them. If you come at it from the need of society, the vast majority of people do not take heroin and the divergence of resources from the NHS will be needed to treat every heroin addict and maintain it indefinitely, possibly a rolling and growing number without any prevention. If you come at it from that direction, which is the direction I come at it from, one comes to a different conclusion. I am not adverse to helping people but they have to help themselves, I think that is the Dutch view as well, I think the Dutch view is right. The Dutch view, their experience, comes out of our experience of it, our experience in the 60s and 70s.

  1198. One of the arguments put to us is at present heroin-related deaths usually arise by adulterated heroin, street heroin and if you supplied it through some regulated system that is the best way of avoiding that?
  (Mr Raynes) It comes from overdosing.

  1199. Which is another case for regulating.
  (Mr Raynes) There is overdosing from methadone. The whole situation is very complex.

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