Examination of Witnesses (Questions 320
TUESDAY 20 NOVEMBER 2001
320. How confident are you that if we met again
as a Select Committee or in some other forum in another few years
you could say "I told you so"?
(Mr Hayman) That would be being a bit smart, would
it not, but what I would say to you is that the indications are
that there are some very strong aspects in this strategy. I can
already answer that question and say it is working, certainly
with the commitment to treatment. There are some problems around
availability and full access, but the three different intervention
points are starting to look promising, which has been reported
in the report. Certainly I think there is a lot more to be done
in education but there are some strong indications that we have
got the direction well articulated, and now what we have got to
do is get all the agencies to work together. Enforcement of the
middle markets is looking good, looking promising. The experiment
that is going to be kicked off in January in the Midlands which
has brought three or four forces together, government-funded,
there is tremendous potential there. If we met in a year's time
we would be able to reflect some positive responses from that.
When was the last timeit probably goes back to the regional
drugs squads there is even some discussion to be had there. For
the first time we have now got collaboration across three or four
force areas, resources being shared, greater focus, intelligence-led,
targeting the middle markets which is seen as a priority. You
can tell by the way I am presenting to you I am very optimistic
about this strategy. I am not seeing things through rose-tinted
glassesI have already highlighted that by the weaknesses
ACPO feelbut structurally, its process and direction is
321. The difficulty really in your written evidence
and what you have said today, Mr Hayman, is that we have been
told over a period of time by witnesses (not the Committee itself
but this Government and the previous Government) that the policy
is working, we should not depart from it, and yet in your written
evidence you are quite frank about it, you say "If we judge
whether the existing drugs policy is working by measurable reductions
in the number of people who use drugs, the number who die or suffer
harm as a result, the supply of drugs, the amount of crime committed
to get money to buy drugs and the organised criminality involved
in transporting and supplying drugs, then we have to say that
the results are not coming through." Therefore inevitably
there is this feelingjustified or otherwise and who knows
what conclusions we will come to as a Committee and whether we
will be able to come to a unanimous viewthat the policy
simply is not working. Your suggestion in the paper that really
all that is required is more co-ordination may not impress a great
number of people that that is the solution.
(Mr Hayman) As you have selected an aspect of my paper
which describes an area that I feel needs to be improved, I could
equally select pieces of my paper that describe the positive parts,
as in the answer to the first question I described. What I am
saying is that it is understandable the results are not coming
through because we are only three years into the strategy. If
ACPO is still writing the same conclusion in two or three years'
time I really do think we need to go into a darkened room with
a wet towel on our head, but at the moment I think it is too early
to come to that conclusion.
322. When the Police Foundation Report came
out and suggested certain changes, including the reclassification
of cannabis, the reaction of the Government (of which I am a supporter,
whether or not on this issue remains to be seen) was that there
should be no change whatsoever and therefore my question is were
you surprised by the press reaction, including from papers not
associated normally with liberal policy such as the Daily Telegraph,
who argue for a wider debate and not just a negative rejection?
(Mr Hayman) My recollection is that whilst the outcome
was that there was no reclassification (contrasting with the position
we have now got at the moment), what I do feel the Police Foundation
report was doing was building the basis for a wider, more mature
debate and that was not discounted, in fact it was happening,
whether or not the government lead at that time was they were
going to do anything, the agencies were discussing that report.
ACPO was very prominent in those discussions and I think it was
those discussions that went on and pre and post the Police Foundation
report that gave the confidence for the most recent announcement.
Although there was not an announcement three or four years ago,
as there is now, there was still work being discussed.
323. You are critical, as the paper states in
paragraph 6.3, of the reclassification of cannabis by the Government.
Of course, that is a view not shared by your colleagues, the Police
Superintendents, who take a somewhat different view on the evidence
that has come before us. Obviously both organisations are entitled
to their views but the reclassification is clearly not something
of which you approve.
(Mr Hayman) Perhaps I could refer you to 6.3. What
we were talking about there is decriminalisation. I think I have
made clear in answer to previous questions that reclassification
is an issue we are supportive of, other than we need a debate
about powers of arrest. What we are talking about in 6.3 is the
decriminalisation, which, as I said earlier, has the potential
to derail the strategy at an unhelpful time.
324. It is being looked upon as decriminalisation
as such, what the Government has done, and you would disagree
(Mr Hayman) Yes, it goes back to my earlier
point, if we are not careful we will get tangled up in a long
debate about the different terms, which needs to be done some
time, but let's be really clear, the most recent government announcement
is not decriminalisation. It might be de facto and we could
325. The emphasis is on de facto?
. (Mr Hayman) Yes.
Mr Prosser: Thank you very much.
326. I would like to ask you about what your
view is of the relative importance of prevention, enforcement
and treatment. A lot of witnesses we have heard from would call
for more and more resources to be poured into treatment for more
and more addicts. Is that your view?
(Mr Hayman) Would it not be nice to cut the cake up
equitably so that it reflected what we see as the success that
can be achieved in those areas of worktreatment, education
and prevention. It is our challenge to understand how that cake
can be cut up. Roger has already made the point, as indeed we
did in our paper, that 65 per cent of our resources at the moment
are stacked up in enforcement. You would not expect us to come
here and say,"Okay, we are going to release those resources"
because clearly they are very nice, thank you very much.
327. That is what I was asking you.
(Mr Hayman) What we are doing is putting our hat on
table along with other agencies and saying we need to work together
here. If that means the evidence suggests that either through
harm reduction initiatives or prevention that we can get a greater
gain down the line with a reduction in drug-related crime and
health of the nation improvements, then that is a debate that
needs to be had. Unfortunately, unless colleagues can help me,
I cannot find any evidential source that substantiates that. What
we are doing at the moment is inheriting resource allocations
that are historical and not evidence based. What ACPO are asking
for is a mature debate that gets us away from historical resource
allocation into empirical research data and outcomes that everyone
can sign up to and the community will be content with. My final
point is we must not lose sight of what reassures the community.
Like it or not, the enforcement activity, although it may not
give us the outcomes we expect for and hope for, is a reassurance
to the community and it is important and we must not disregard
that. What we must try and do is complement that in a more proportionate
way than resources are cut up at the moment.
(Mr Howard) If we are looking at where the evidence
of where success lies, I do not think we can get away from the
fact that really the only the hard evidence is that treatment
works. For every £1 that is spent on treatment it is reckoned
there £3 is saved in the reduction of crime. That is a firm
Government estimate. We are less sure on prevention. There are
some promising approaches and there does seem to be some evidence
of some success. We are operating somewhat blind, as Andy says,
around the enforcement world. That does not mean to say it is
totally ineffective. It means we need a much better evidence base
about what impact and what evidence there is available to support
certain enforcement activities.
Chairman: Mr Cameron has some questions for
328. If I may direct my questions at Mr Morris.
Mr Morris, from the very interesting paper the Superintendents
put in where you point out there were 2.4 drug-related deaths
per million inhabitants in the Netherlands 31 for the United Kingdom,
I take it from that that in the broad scheme of things you do
not think the approach in our country is very good?
(Mr Morris) The overall strategy is right, that you
cannot pick in isolation one part from it, it has to be an holistic
approach. The difficulty comes in what is the ultimate outcome
we want from this. If it is to criminalise people, to lock them
up, to give them a criminal record, then we can concentrate on
that and from the police side that is clearly what we are able
to do. If you want to reduce deaths, then I think we need to look
at the allocation of resources. I would not be in favour, as Mr
Hayman said, because it is turkeys voting for Christmas really,
of moving resources arbitrarily between one thing and another.
329. I am not asking you to cut your budget
but I sense from your paper that the Superintendents feel that
the current strategy may be working in terms of the structure
but it is a bit like a doctor saying "the operation was a
great success but, sadly, the patient died".
(Mr Morris) That seems to be the body of evidence
we have picked up on. I would like to point out that our current
policy is that nothing should change but we are quite willing
to look at alternatives and, having gone into this, the evidence
in favour of alternatives is really quite overwhelming.
330. That is where I wanted to take you. In
terms of the changes you might like to make to the policy, you
say in your paper the issue of decriminalisationthis is
with respect to cannabishas to be addressed. Is the Superintendents
Federation moving towards that position, given the very warm things
you say about the Dutch policy?
(Mr Morris) First of all, we are not the Federation.
331. The Association, I am sorry.
(Mr Morris) The Association as a whole is looking
at this issue and we are moving in favour of changing our position.
I cannot do that on my own, that is something we would have to
put to the membership, but we are in favour of looking at all
the factors. It comes back to what is success? If success is how
many people we criminalise, we can be very successful, but if
it is about harm reduction, at the moment the evidence tends to
suggest we are not doing too well. That is not our specific role.
332. What do you think it should be as a police
officer? Do you think it should be about criminalising people
or it should be about harm reduction?
(Mr Morris) Our overall view is that we should as
a nation be looking at harm reduction and that the law where it
is applied should be applied equally wherever it is applied.
333. Looking at some of the figures for the
amount of police time in policing cannabis,300,000 stop
and searches for cannabis, 86,000 arrests in 1997is it
your view that if you took cannabis out of the illegal market
and decriminalise it in some way that would free up a lot of police
(Mr Morris) It would free up resources but not necessarily
for what the Home Secretary thought it would be. Mr Hayman mentioned
this earliermoving into class A drugs is very unlikely
to happen. The other thing is street officers would probably see
it as an affront to them. This is something they feel quite strongly
about, as the Federation have already made clear. The difficulty
we have as management is that officers are very good at going
out in the middle of the day or in the middle of the night and
not exactly sticking to what we would like them do.
334. What do you mean by that?
(Mr Morris) We let officers out during the day and
they are very much then independent people. Much as we would like
them to concentrate on various things, they may not. So what we
have to do as managersyou will probably find out more from
the evidence from the Lambeth experimentis we have to be
very clear about what the priorities are and again measure them
for those priorities and nothing else. At the moment the success
factor is an arrest, not necessarily the arrest that we actually
335. I am not putting words into your mouth
but we are looking at the effects of decriminalisation and it
would seem to be the Suprintendents Association's view that the
decriminalisation of cannabis would not be a leap in the dark,
would not be something that you are totally uncomfortable be with,
and you seem to be moving in that direction slowly.
(Mr Morris) Not totally uncomfortable.
336. Let's move on to some of the other drugs.
Let's take a leap on to the hardest drugs, heroin in particular.
This Committee has been told by many different groups that doctors
prescribing heroin could make a radical difference to the level
of crime and also could radically reduce the harm that heroin
addicts do both to themselves and to society. What do you think
(Mr Morris) We have been trying to collect as much
evidence as possible before we came here and the major thing was
the point I made earlierwe notice from Australia that the
heroin has dried up which drove the price up and reduced the quality
of it and it was the lack of quality that was causing deaths.
It did not reduce crime because people had to steal more to purchase
the dwindling supplies. What it did do was force people into treatment
and it reduced the deaths dramatically. The sad thing is they
are waiting for heroin to reappear and then the deaths will possibly
go through the roof again.
337. So the lessons you take out of that are?
(Mr Morris) That the policing influence on that level
of intervention is quite difficult. If you look at prescribing
drugs generally, we can buy over the shelf in the UK aspirin and
Paracetamol and if you want to scare yourselves go and look up
the contra-indications of both those and yet you can wander into
a shop and buy them. It is the quality of the drug that is being
purchased or is being supplied that causes the problem, not the
fact that somebody is per se an addict.
338. Again I do not want to put words in your
mouth, but I take it from that that the concept of doctors or
health centres or drugs centres prescribing heroin to addicts
to make sure they have a clean supply would reduce the harm they
do to themselves and would possibly reduce drug-related crime.
Is that the feeling you have?
(Mr Morris) I think it would reduce the deaths but
whether it would reduce the crime is a very difficult area and
I do not feel we have enough evidence on that at this stage.
339. Would you describe it as the leap in the
dark that some people would or something to be looked at?
(Mr Morris) I think we would have to consider it very