The Government should hand out free heroin to addicts, a senior police officer has urged in a BBC news programme.
Mike Barton, Durham Chief Constable, said providing drugs to users would “take the money out of the business”.
Speaking on a local news programme, Inside Out, he told viewers: “We should provide the heroin, the state should provide the heroin, and we take the 600 pounds out of the drug dealers’ pocket.”
“I know there will be those in high office who will be angry at me saying this, but I don’t want to be the former Chief Constable or the retired Chief Constable who says this.”
“It’s time a serving Chief Constable spoke out”, he added.
During the programme, Mr Barton visits ‘drug consumption rooms’ in Denmark where users are provided with equipment to take drugs.
He also debates the issue with anti-drugs columnist Peter Hitchens who regularly calls for police to take a tougher stance.
Mr Hitchens said that if anyone is “caught in possession” of drugs, arrested and found guilty, “they are punished in a deterrent fashion to deter them from future action and to deter other people from possessing drugs”.
Campaigners also criticised Mr Barton’s comments, saying that he is “condoning” drug use.
Mary Brett, from Cannabis Skunk Sense, said that if police gave away heroin there would be huge problems with addicts harming communities while they wait for their next fix.
She said the criminals who currently profit from drugs would simply switch to other illegal ways of making money.
Last year Mr Barton said Class A drugs should be decriminalised because the war on drugs is failing.
He was roundly criticised by research fellow Kathy Gyngell who said the solution to the problem of drugs crime is not so “seductively simple”.
She said: “The legal supply of heroin would no more undercut illicit demand than sate addicts’ desire.”
“It would encourage drug tourism, black-market dealing (by adding to the supply) and the gangland crime that Mr Barton wants to escape. Supply without sanction feeds demand, which in turn feeds rates of use and, inevitably, harm.”
The Prime Minister has said there are no plans to change the law on drugs.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has called for a Royal Commission to review Britain’s drug policy.