NO 10: WE'RE LOSING WAR ON DRUGS
Dealers in Control, Say Experts
THE Government was secretly warned two years ago that the police were losing the war on drugs, it emerged yesterday.
According to leaked papers, Cabinet ministers were told dealers had won the battle for control of the streets with the police proving unable to disrupt supplies.
The report by the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit - overseen by policy tsar Lord Birt - said measures to cut the amount of illegal drugs entering the UK since the early 1990s had little impact on supply.
Seizure rates were running at less than 20 per cent, far lower than the 60 to 80 per cent the experts said was necessary to put major suppliers out of business.
The damning report revealed there had been no "sustainable disruption"
to the drug market.
The trade's big players saw government intervention as a "cost of business" that posed no real threat to the industry's viability.
Cocaine and heroin have halved in price over the last decade in real terms, although the report's authors said police action had slowed the rate of decrease slightly.
The study revealed there exists an "inexhaustible" supply of drug traffickers, who are "innovative and technologically sophisticated".
The international drug war led by the US simply forced production to be moved from one country to another.
Researchers found that cracking down on drug users through the courts had little effect and Lord Birt had recommended forcing them into treatment programmes.
The full report provided a powerful argument for legalising drugs in order to bring them under government control, cutting crime and at the same time undermining illegal suppliers.
The cost of crime by heroin and crack users was put at UKP16billion and 30,000 drug users were committing 21 million criminal offences a year.
Parts of the report were forced to be made public last week by Freedom of Information requests while the rest was suppressed - however that hidden half has now been leaked.
Former Customs officer David Raynes, who now works with the National Drugs Prevention Alliance, said that rather than tackling the supply end, government should focus on reducing demand for drugs.
He added: "Drugs enforcement doesn't solve the problem. The real problem with drugs use is preventing young people using drugs.
"What has happened is we teach kids about drugs but we don't teach them to resist peer pressure to use drugs."
A spokeswoman for No 10 said: "This paper was written two years ago and a lot has happened since then.
"You need to see this paper for what it was - blue skies thinking. The intention was to provoke debate."