Police should pay less attention to arresting drug dealers and focus their energies on clearing up the mess they cause, a new report claims.
The UK Drug Policy Commission (UKDPC), a research group, points to evidence from America that murder rates fell when gangsters were promised they wouldn’t be arrested for drug dealing if they stopped killing each other.
Critics have dubbed the UKDPC proposals “defeatist” and say they are simply an attempt to contain drug-related problems without admitting the failure of existing policy.
The Government has come under fire for focusing huge resources on harm reduction strategies, such as prescribing methadone to heroin addicts, rather than helping them become free from drugs.
One critic recently accused the Government of trapping people in “state-sponsored addiction”.
Roger Howard, UKDPC’s Chief Executive, defended the report. He said: “Fewer arrests and seizures, but of the right kind, may be much more beneficial.
“Drug markets will inevitably remain, and some enforcement agencies are beginning to prioritise their resources and efforts to curb the most harmful aspect of these.”
But dismissing the recommendations Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith said “a complete change of drugs policy” is needed.
“It’s about controlling this and making sure that as few people as possible take drugs and use them”, he said.
A survey of law enforcement agents conducted as part of the report found nine out of ten believed the war on drugs was unwinnable in the near future.
Last week the Government was accused of losing its ‘war on drugs’ after it emerged that cocaine use had soared by 25 per cent in the past twelve months.
In May a report by the Centre for Policy Studies dubbed the Government’s war on drugs a “costly flop”, accusing the Government of wasting £10 billion pounds of taxpayers’ money on a fruitless ‘harm reduction’ approach to drugs.