Ex police officer claims Scotland’s war on drugs is lost

The war on drugs is “completely lost and unwinnable” if legislators continue with the same approach to tackling the issue, it has been claimed.

Wednesday, 3rd July 2019, 9:44 am

Jim Duffy, a retired Strathclyde Police officer who now works for Law Enforcement Action Partnership UK, told MPs at Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee that the Misuse Of Drugs Act had been an “out and out failure” and said that a radical rethink is needed.

He suggested that by moving towards decriminalisation of drug use, such as countries like Portugal which did so in 2001, control can be taken away from criminals. “The war on drugs, as it currently stands, is completely lost and completely unwinnable,” said Mr Duffy.

“The way forward is not to follow the current Misuse Of Drugs Act, which has been in place for 48 years and has been an out-and-out failure.

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The war on drugs is completely lost and unwinnable if legislators continue with the same approach to tackling the issue, it has been claimed.
The war on drugs is completely lost and unwinnable if legislators continue with the same approach to tackling the issue, it has been claimed.

“We need a radical rethink and we need a change.

“We need to take it away from criminals, we need to take it away from the organised crime groups, we need to legalise and legislate, and control.”

He continued: “Lives are being saved all over the world, in Canada and America where they’ve legalised it in certain states, there aren’t the same number of fatalities.

“When you see what they’ve done in Portugal and what they’ve done in Switzerland, there aren’t the same number of people dying. But then you come to Scotland and the United Kingdom, and in Scotland we’re Law Enforcement Action Partnership UK.”

His call came days after the Evening News reported on a six-month drugs operation across the Capital that resulted in 95 arrests and the seizure of £1.2m of narcotics.

Figures show that in 2017 there were 934 drug related deaths across Scotland – the highest since records began in 1996 – with Edinburgh recording 84 drug related deaths in 2017. It also emerged that patients in Edinburgh and the Lothians face the worst waits for drug treatment in Scotland.

Mr Duffy, also warned MPs: “What we’re currently doing, by prohibiting it, does not work.

“So we need to change what we are doing, we need to take it away from the criminals and bring it back under control.”

Martin Powell, from the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, said that allowing for the creation of drugs consumption rooms, such as that proposed in Glasgow, could allow Scotland to explore whether deregulation could be beneficial.

Under current UK legislation, it would not be legally possibly for such a facility to be set up, with the UK government required to give approval.

Mr Powell said: “In terms of things we’d like to see changing in terms of the Misuse Of Drugs Act, would be very specifically in the short term, to allow drugs consumption rooms to be piloted.

“So, no big bangs, no sudden shocks to the system – a very careful, cautious, evidence-based approach.”