Prison governors have criticised the strenuous enforcement of laws against drugs like heroin and crack cocaine – but the Government says illegal drugs do immense damage.
The Prison Governors’ Association (PGA) called for a “fundamental review” of current drugs policy as they backed a campaign against an enforcement-led approach.
But the Home Office said drugs are illegal because “they destroy lives and blight communities”.
A spokesman added: “The Government’s drug strategy is clear and our balanced approach combines effective enforcement, efforts to reduce demand and the promotion of robust treatment programmes”.
And the department commented: “Drug usage remains at its lowest level since records began and the number of heroin and crack cocaine users in England has fallen below 300,000 for the first time.”
The Home Office has previously said that the Government has “no intention of decriminalising drugs”.
The PGA said: “The blanket prohibition on class A drugs allows criminals to control both the supply and quality of these drugs to addicts who turn to crime to fund their addiction.”
Earlier this week a report in Scotland revealed that more than 300 children suffered the death of a parent or parental figure because of drugs in 2011.
The new statistics also showed that methadone, a legal substance used to treat drug addicts, was implicated in more deaths than any other drug.
And last month an idea in Brighton to allow addicts to inject themselves in official drug rooms was strongly criticised.
Melanie Phillips said that such drug rooms “risk turning whole areas into drug hot-spots”, and institutionalise hard drug use.
Peter Hitchens described the idea as “stupid” and a drugs misuse expert warned it could “deliver a massive headache for the police and the courts”.
The recommendation for drug consumption rooms, which have been dubbed ‘safe rooms’ or ‘shooting galleries’, was put forward by a local commission on drugs.
Various models could be adopted, including giving addicts drugs or allowing them to use their own.