Current drug enforcement efforts aren't working, a charity claims, and the focus should be on harm reduction instead. The News reports on whether a new approach is needed or whether the benefits of arrests and seizures are under-rated.
Drug dealing 'will not be tolerated'
Det Chief Insp Jon Hutchinson, for Cambridgeshire police, spoke to the News in the wake of a string of prosecutions that have been brought about by a threemonth blitz by undercover officers on heroin and crack cocaine dealers - known as Operation Armstrong.
He said: "My view is that drug dealing remains an evil crime picking on the most vulnerable in society and making money out of them. We will continue to actively target drug dealers.
"However, we do need to work alongside other agencies to support drug users to help them with their addiction and find ways to divert them from drug use and keep them out of the criminal justice system."
Det Chief Insp Hutchinson said Operation Armstrong has "definitely been a success", adding: "One of the main reasons for Operation Armstrong was to tackle anti-social behaviour associated with drug dealing in residential areas. We identified a large number of people, not only openly dealing drugs on the street, but causing real harm to the community.
"There were needles in graveyards across the city. We wanted to take a strong stance on this."
He said: "The key message is that our drugs enforcement work will remain directly in response to local concerns - of which Operation Armstrong is a good example.
"One of the other things being looked at nationally is violence among drug dealers. Luckily, in Cambridge we don't have the levels of violence in the drugs world as in other cities across the UK such as London and Manchester.
"Our tactics remain that we will not tolerate drug dealing within the county."
Call for legalisation and control of drugs
FULTON Gillespie's son, Scott, died after an accidental heroin overdose - just a month before his 34th birthday and following a long battle with drugs.
The son of the former News health and crime correspondent had just been freed from five weeks' custody on suspicion of stealing to buy drugs - he was proved innocent - when he died on February 20, 2000.
The effect of taking his normal drug dose after a period of abstinence took its toll - and tests revealed the heroin he took was toxic.
Mr Gillespie, 70, from Burwell said to the News: "The only way to deal with drugs is to bring them under Government control and legalise them.
"The more we can do to alleviate the problem with drugs the better.
"Prohibition creates the problem as it did with alcohol in America.
"The only effective way to deal with the drugs problem is to bring the drugs production and distribution under Government control as we did with alcohol and tobacco."
He said police have continued with their drug enforcement efforts for "30-odd years", but they have not worked.
Mr Gillespie said: "It just corrupts the whole system from top to bottom. The only way to deal with it is to take it out of the criminals' hands."
He gave evidence before a Home Affairs Select Committee in 2002 and he called for all drugs to be legalised.
MPs rejected that plea but did downgrade cannabis to a class C drug.
Mr Gillespie said his son would be alive if heroin had been legal and controlled.
July 31, 2009