Source: Guardian
Date: 6 February 2004

Police chief calls for heroin to be legalised

Rosie Cowan, crime correspondent

A senior policeman faced fierce criticism from fellow officers and politicians yesterday when he called for heroin to be legalised.

Richard Brunstrom, the chief constable of North Wales, said he did not advocate anyone abusing their body, but he thought the open sale of drugs would wipe out the multimillion-pound illegal trade and help cut crime.

"Heroin is very addictive but it's not very, very dangerous," he told the BBC Wales political programme Dragon's Eye.

"The question is actually not 'Am I prepared to see the government selling heroin on the street corner or through the pharmacy?' but 'Why would we not want to do that?' Our current policy is doing more harm than good."

Mr Brunstrom said dealers charged £40 a gram for heroin but the government could sell it for £1 a gram, cutting theft from addicts and violence from dealers.

But Keith Hellawell, the former drugs tsar and ex-chief constable of West Yorkshire police, said: "He doesn't represent the view of the rest of the police service. He certainly doesn't represent the views of those who have been associated with the problems of heroin."

Andy Hayman, Norfolk's chief constable and the Association of Chief Police Officers spokesman on drugs, said: "Acpo does not support either the legalisation or open sale of any controlled drug."

Hywel Williams, the Plaid Cymru MP for Caernarfon, voiced concern about the effect Mr Brunstrom's statement would have on how young people viewed drug use.

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