Memorandum submitted by Detective Chief
Inspector Chris Healey, Hampshire Constabulary
1. In 1972, President Nixon declared war
on drugs, the hostilities having been commenced in 1961 after
the Single Convention on Narcotics, a United Nations initiative.
2. It is apparent to all who work at the
front line of street policing that the battle against drug misuse
in the case of heroin has been lost, In fact, it is lost the moment
the drug arrives at distribution points within the UK. That is
the front line of the "battle", and losing that ground
also loses the second line of defence, which is on the streets
of the country.
3. I believe that it is time to acknowledge
4. Having been brave enough to admit that
this second front has been lost, a competent general will choose
a new field for the next battle, from which a better outcome can
5. Tangible evidence is in the increasing
availability of the commodity, along with falling street prices
and increasing "quality" of the final deal in the possession
of the user. (See "Seaford House papers 1993" p 35:8)
6. Arresting a heroin dealer only leads
to another taking his place. Arrest is no deterrent.
7. During September 2001, 148 domestic burglaries
were reported to the police in Portsmouth, and 25 persons were
arrested. It is known that 17 are heroin addicts. Of the other
arrestees, it is safe to say that four committed the one burglary
8. A number of those arrested whilst committing
a series of offences, were charged and remanded in custody; thus
the number of reported offences was kept to a lower level. A well
founded estimate within Portsmouth is that heroin addicts commit
between 75 and 90 per cent of dwelling burglaries. Thus keeping
to the lower estimate, heroin addicts committed 111 burglaries,
leaving 37 to the rest.
9. An arrest of one addict can and does,
have an impact on overall crime figures. The addict spends time
in custody, during which he says he will be giving up the addiction.
Within a short time of his release, he has resumed feeding his
habit. There are innumerable examples all police officers can
give. What finally stops the offending behaviour in the majority
of cases is either debilitating illness or an early death.
10. The key to stopping the process is the
reduction of the availability of the drug on the street and the
provision of a viable alternative. Stopping the heroin supply
without a viable alternative will drive an addict to an alternative
drug. This was evidenced in the 1980s when the then drug of choice
was Diconal. When effective measures were put in place to strangle
the supply, addicts turned to heroin.
11. An element to drug treatment programmes
is the substitute methadone linctus. Methadone is another highly
addictive drug and addicts who go onto this treatment programme
are given a second addiction, from which they also have to be
weaned. Many addicts find that the linctus does not satisfy the
12. In many cases the linctus becomes a
commodity on the black market in its own right. It is often sold
to make money for the purchase of heroin.
13. Persons in custody frequently ask a
Drug Action worker for immediate access to a treatment scheme.
However, the current scheme does not allow for treatment to commence
for some weeks or months. In that time the addict has gone back
onto the street to satisfy his craving, and rejects offers of
14. Many competent professionals working
for organisations and charities run drug treatment programmes.
These are generally in competition with each other for funds from
a finite pot.
15. A doctor, on being told that it was
suggested that addicts should be prescribed heroin, has said that
in prescribing heroin to an addict, the addict will need more
and more as the amount he is using is tolerated by his body. All
persons in this field are aware of this. An addict on the street
goes through the same process and if the habit is already funded
by crime, an increase in crime by the addict will follow.
16. My recommendations are as follows.
17. An independent body be formed with the
responsibility of co-ordinating the response of the drug treatment
programmes, both nationally and locally. Those in existence require
assessing to establish the most effective. The National \Health
Service would appear to be the natural body.
18. Included in this must be the ability
to treat the person shouting for help now, not in two weeks or
months time. The addict does not have the luxury of time. In fairness
some areas have nearly achieved this.
19. Addicts who are addicted to heroin,
would be given heroin in the first instance, in a properly controlled
environment, whilst they are being treated. This is not a call
for the legalisation of heroin.
20. Any addict arrested committing offences
to obtain money to feed their addiction, be mandated to commence
treatment. Any subsequent offences committed to obtain heroin,
to be treated as an aggravated offence, with heavier punishment
available to the courts.
21. Persons arrested for the supply of heroin
when scheme in place to receive heavier sentences.
22. The advantages of an effective treatment
programme would be:
an ability to improve the health
of heroin addicts;
an end of the necessity for the addict
to obtain funds to feed their habit, by theft, prostitution or
other illegal activity;
reduction in the suffering of the
reduction in crime rate. Burglary
is just one crime which addicts commit, vast amounts of prostitution,
fraud and theft from shops also occurs; and
reduce funds in criminals pockets,
23. As the addicts would be treated as a
person who is ill, surely the temptation will be reduced for youngsters
to join in a band of sick people. This should similarly apply
to the abuse of other drugs, particularly with skilful marketing.