07/17/19 Alex Stevens

The Scottish Affairs Committee of the UK House of Commons held a hearing on drug policy recently and heard from high-ranking active-duty police officers about the need for harm reduction, including supervised consumption facilities, and decriminalization of simple possession. We'll hear portions of testimony from Professor Alex Stevens, University of Kent, Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs; Chief Inspector Jason Kew, Drugs Policy Lead, Thames Valley; Assistant Chief Constable Steve Johnson, Police Scotland; and Superintendent Kevin Weir, Durham Police.

Program: 
Century of Lies
Date: 
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Guest: 
Alex Stevens
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CENTURY OF LIES

JULY 17, 2019

DEAN BECKER: The failure of drug war is glaringly obvious to judges, cops, wardens, prosecutors, and millions more now calling for decriminalization, legalization, the end of prohibition. Let us investigate the Century Of Lies.

DOUG MCVAY: Hello, and welcome to Century of Lies. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugPolicyFacts.org.

On Tuesday July 16, the Guardian newspaper had this headline: Scotland Records Huge Rise In Drug Related Deaths. According to the Guardian, quote:

"Scotland's drug related death toll has increased by 27 percent over the past year to reach a record high of 1,187, putting the country on a par in terms of the fatality rate per capita with the United States," end quote.

In the House of Commons, the Scottish Affairs Committee is holding an inquiry into problem drug use in Scotland. On Tuesday July 2, that Committee held a hearing. We're going to hear portions of that now.

The Committee is chaired by Pete Wishart, he's a member of the Scottish National Party. We're going to hear portions of the second panel that they were talking to, and I will let the panelists introduce themselves.

CHIEF INSPECTOR JASON KEW: Thank you. Jason Kew, Thames Valley Police. I'm a Detective Chief Inspector and implemented Thames Valley Police's diversion scheme, which is a pre-arrest scheme designed to -- do I need to be worried about that bell?

PETER WISHART, MP: No, it is just telling us that we're started.

CHIEF INSPECTOR JASON KEW: We do not have to run outside. Thank you. It is a pre-arrest diversion scheme, which enables everyone found in possession of a controlled drug, regardless of their age and regardless of the type of drug, to receive an initial assessment at the drug service and an education program, which is non-judgmental and provides better outcomes for that individual.

PETER WISHART, MP: Thank you. I will just call you Mister Johnson, if that is okay.

ASSISTANT CHIEF CONSTABLE STEVE JOHNSON: That is absolutely fine.

PETER WISHART, MP: I am not even too sure what ACC is, but you could tell us. Assistant Chief Constable.

ASSISTANT CHIEF CONSTABLE STEVE JOHNSON: I'm glad you got that. So, I'm Steve Johnson, Assistant Chief Constable. I was the lead for specialist crime and intelligence for Police Scotland for the past three years and holding the drugs strategy portfolio, responsible in the main for targeting organized crime and dealing with counter-terrorism in Scotland.

SUPERINTENDENT KEVIN WEIR: Good morning. My name is Kevin Weir. I am a Detective Superintendent in Durham Police and I am the strategic lead for the Checkpoint program, which offers a four-month diversion from prosecution if you comply with the issues that you've got and does not result in any prosecution if you successfully comply.

PROFESSOR ALEX STEVENS, PHD: My name's Alex Stevens. I am a professor in criminal justice at the University of Kent. I recently stepped down as President of the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy.

I'm a member of the Advisory Council on the Misuse Drugs for the UK, and I was the lead author of its report in 2016 on “Reducing Opioid-Related Deaths in the UK” and also its very recent report on reducing drug-related harms in transitions between custody and community.

I should mention that I cannot speak on behalf of the council, because only the chair can speak on behalf of the council, but I can speak about the council as an independent academic.

I should also declare I'm also a special adviser to the Health and Social Care Select Committee --

PETER WISHART, MP: I missed that.

PROFESSOR ALEX STEVENS, PHD: I'm also a special adviser to the Health and Social Care Select Committee on its similar inquiry that it's running at the moment and will be meeting this afternoon.

PETER WISHART, MP: Okeh. We have three very distinguished police officers with us today, with vast experience in this particular field. How does criminal justice interventions help us deal with some of the issues that we've heard about today and how does it help us address some of the appalling drug deaths that we've had in Scotland? Does criminal justice interventions work? We will start with you, ACC Johnson.

ASSISTANT CHIEF CONSTABLE STEVE JOHNSON: I suppose you -- you know, I think it's a balance, clearly. I can give you some statistics. You know, certainly, I've been in Police Scotland for the past three years and we are now shy of 3,000 drug-related deaths in Scotland.

The official statistics, if you like: 2015, 539; 2016, 788; 2017, 903; 2018 -- and this is an unofficial statistic, I keep a tally of the drug-related deaths every day -- we're going to hit around about 1,067, maybe just break the 1,100 mark once we get past suspected drug deaths. So, you know, since 2015, the figures have doubled in Scotland.

And for me, those are not just statistics. I get reported every day the names, the ages, and the locations across Scotland. And of the 13 divisions, there isn't a division in Scotland that hasn't seen an increase, and certainly from 2017 to 2018, very nearly a 20 percent increase in drug-related deaths.

I suppose one thing that I would want to get across to the Committee is probably the sense that's felt by the sort of root and branch officers, of what I think they would call the hamster wheel.

And that's our custody staff and our operational staff that see people, and it's just a matter of time, they come through the custody door, they get processed through the criminal justice process, they go in through the Sheriff's Courts, they go into prison. Of those people who come out of prison, eleven percent of them will die within the first month of having been released, according to the statistics.

But the police officers get used to this carousel, you know, this sense of hopelessness and helplessness. Their first duty, of every police officer, is to preserve life. And when people don't come back through the doors with that alarming frequency, it's probably because the person is dead. It's not because there has been a successful intervention through the criminal justice process.

So that is a sense, if you like, the foreboding sense within law enforcement.

But there is an awful lot of good that we do with partners around diversionary streams, trying to divert people away from criminal justice, the work that we do with young offenders in Polmont, trying to divert them away from organized crime.

But overwhelmingly the sense is, for me, dealing with the serious and organized crime group, that we've had some successes. There was a question earlier on, from 163 serious and organised crime groups in Scotland, we're down to about 96 now.

But actually what's missing, I think, in the criminal justice process is, it's seen as supply, importation, almost sort of a white collar sense to the criminality, and the criminality of these organised crime groups I don't believe is linked to the harm that is caused to the citizens in Scotland. And it's death, and it's death on a large scale. It is an epidemic scale.

PETER WISHART, MP: I think we all appreciate the work that the police service do in terms of trying to keep people safe, and we've seen great examples of that and some of that has been presented to this Committee.

But what we're finding difficult to understand is, and we could understand disrupting supply and, you know, going after the big criminals who, you know, are leaders of organised crime, but does criminalizing drug users actually seriously assist them in dealing with their problems? And that's what we need to hear from you and maybe you could help us with that.

SUPERINTENDENT KEVIN WEIR: From our point of view, we obviously look after victims as best we possibly can, but from the point of a view of an offender, most of the offenders we meet are vulnerable in some way because they have some issue that attracts them to commit the crime.

And what we try to do is work with them to do that. So if we're talking about specifically drugs, we will offer Checkpoint schemes, which is our diversion scheme, to people who are low-level suppliers -- so they supply to their friends, in the streets.

We make a distinction between sad versus bad, and we have a scale that we use to be able to do that, but actually we try to change the underlying causes of why they commit crime and improve their life chances so actually they can stop committing crime but actually take a better part in society.

So, we've developed a scheme which is a four-month deferred prosecution. They have to admit the offense or at least we have enough evidence --

PETER WISHART, MP: I want to come specifically to some of the things that you guys are doing, because we are impressed by some of the things that are being offered by the Police Service, but I'm just interested in this ideological question.

You're police officers, you're the front line and the interface between the criminal justice system. You're not health professionals, you're not experts in addiction disorders. Maybe you could help us with this, Mister Kew. Why is it you guys that are dealing with this issue and not health professionals, and what do you actively contribute to making this better?

CHIEF INSPECTOR JASON KEW: So, I can speak from a personal point of view. I don't want to bring my organization into any form of disrepute from my own views. So individually, criminalization doesn't work for simple possession of drugs. And I say that because there's a significant amount of stigma attached to policing.

So, taking best evidence from Checkpoint and West Midlands Turning Point schemes and Bristol’s Drugs Education Program, all have seen evidence that actually the role of the police and the role of capture and punishment has little effect actually on drugs possession. I'm only talking about drugs possession in isolation here.

So, what is the role of police in drugs possession? And, the police aren’t punishers. We collect evidence. And, as ACC Johnson just mentioned, the primary role of police officers is to prevent harm. And, with, you know, such significant numbers of drug-related deaths, our role -- my role -- has turned towards a health-based approach to enable education. No stigma.

And the most teachable moment -- and there is strong evidence to suggest this -- in any interaction with police is that moment on the street. So what can we do to maximize that opportunity when someone comes into contact with police officers there and then on the street?

PETER WISHART, MP: Thank you. And Professor Stevens, I know you can't speak on behalf of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, but you can speak about it. This Committee's having a bit difficulty about what your formal role is when it comes to Government policy. You advise Government on the evidence about drugs issues; would that be correct?

PROFESSOR ALEX STEVENS, PHD: Yes. The council has a statutory duty under the Misuse of Drugs Act to advise Ministers on the reduction of drug-related harms.

PETER WISHART, MP: And what usually happens to that advice?

PROFESSOR ALEX STEVENS, PHD: If that advice is to tighten control on drugs, it is generally accepted. If that advice is to loosen control on drugs, it is generally refused.

PETER WISHART, MP: So it's next -- next to useless then, given the evidence that we've heard about the fact that drug consumption rooms work internationally, that decriminalization seems to make a strong impact, so you would be --

PROFESSOR ALEX STEVENS, PHD: I would strongly dispute that the council is next to useless.

PETER WISHART, MP: The Government knows this evidence though.

PROFESSOR ALEX STEVENS, PHD: The Government don't always know the evidence. We are distillers of the evidence.

PETER WISHART, MP: Isn’t that your job, to give it to them?

PROFESSOR ALEX STEVENS, PHD: We do give it to them, yes. And it's the Government’s prerogative to refuse or accept it.

Sometimes they accept it. So for example, when we recommended that naloxone should be made more available in 2013, it was made more available, and that's probably saved people’s lives.

In 1988, when we advised the Government that it was more important to keep people alive than it was to punish them for using drugs, the Government accepted that advice and we helped to create a harm reduction system that was the envy of the world and saved loads of people’s lives.

PETER WISHART, MP: So you advise Government based on the evidence that you see and you have acquired, probably some that you even commission, looking at international examples, and you present that to Government.

If it's something that suggests a hardening approach to drugs, they tend to accept it, but anything which leads to a more liberal approach, they would say, “No, we don't like that. It doesn't fit with our general policy of sending a message,” which seems to be Government policy when it comes to drugs.

PROFESSOR ALEX STEVENS, PHD: Yes, which I think is fascinating, because we have just heard from senior police officers with a wealth of experience that they can no longer toe the Government line, which is that we need to criminalize people to send a message to reduce harm. We have heard from these senior police officers, that just does not fit with their professional expertise.

PETER WISHART, MP: Do we not need a better arrangement than this then? You spend all this time, present them with the evidence, which is then rejected, and then conditions and situations possibly get worse. We've got these drug deaths right here in Scotland. Do we not need to make sure the Government accept the evidence?

PROFESSOR ALEX STEVENS, PHD: I would much prefer that the Government not only accepted the evidence but actually put it into practice.

So for example, in the 2016 report on “Reducing Opioid-Related Deaths in the UK” that the ACMD published, we had several recommendations and the Government formally accepted all of them, except the one on drug consumption rooms.

So, it formally accepted our recommendation, the most important one, that investment in opioid substitution treatment therapy of optimal dosage and duration should be maintained. Now, they formally accepted that recommendation.

They have since cut the public health budget in England by 25 percent.

We formally -- we recommended that there be central funding provided for heroin-assisted treatment. They formally accepted that recommendation on the basis that there should be heroin-assisted treatment, but they said it was up to local authorities to provide that heroin-assisted treatment, not acknowledging the fact they'd massively cut the amount of money that local authorities have available to provide heroin-assisted treatment.

So, while they sometimes accept our recommendations in the letter, in the actual practice we don’t see that. But that's not for the council. The council has no powers to implement policy. All we can do is recommend policies to the Government. It is the Government’s democratic duty and right to decide whether to implement our advice or not.

DOUG MCVAY: We're listening to a hearing before the Scottish Affairs Committee of the House of Commons. It was held on the Second of July. They're discussing problem drug use in Scotland.

The hearing panel includes Professor Alex Stevens from the University of Kent, also a member of the Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs; Chief Inspector Jason Kew, the Drugs Policy Lead at Thames Valley; Assistant Chief Constable Steve Johnson, with Police Scotland; and Superintendent Kevin Weir, Durham Police.

You're listening to Century of Lies. I'm your host Doug McVay.

These are high-ranking, senior police officers in Scotland and two English police departments. All of them are calling for changes in the law, all of them expressing support for supervised consumption facilities and for a health-based approach to drug policy. Let's get back to that hearing.

TOMMY SHEPPARD, MP: I'll let Superintendent Weir come in first.

SUPERINTENDENT KEVIN WEIR: So, from my point of view, I mean my organization treats people as vulnerable. What we are trying to do is work within the legislation that currently exists to be able to do different things.

So we're trying to look at heroin-assisted treatment centers with partners because there's a -- we can do that with a license from the Home Office. We're looking at what we do with lower level people who function in their lives around drugs, because within the legislation we can divert them from prosecution, and we can give them an out-of-court disposal, which prevents them going to court.

So we do speak with the Home Office. The Home Office have been several times to visit the force. The organization of Durham Police wants to treat everybody at a lower level with current legislative guidance that's already there.

That's what we do. We don't break the law. We don’t not arrest people for drug-related offenses. We just dispose of them differently.

TOMMY SHEPPARD, MP: So, can I just explore this a little bit more? Because it seems to me that we've this situation in public policy now throughout the UK, more acute in Scotland, where you have, you've got -- the body of Home Office legislation and practice which I think is no longer fit for purpose but no one wants to particularly change it and they won't admit that.

So there's an element within, probably of embarrassment amongst -- within the Home Office that actually just will choose to turn a blind eye to certain -- or will allow some leniency if people want to push something and give dispensation for it.

On the other hand, you've got this drive towards people trying to have alternative approaches to criminal justice to the problem. You were saying health intervention and harm reduction techniques and all the rest of it, which you as practitioners on the ground are -- seem to see merit in and are being dragged into that as well.

So we have this sort of lack of clarity in terms of really what people should be doing and what is official policy, which gives you some discretion.

And that brings us to what DCI Kew has said, in terms of, you presumably have, in your operational policies, you have to make a judgment as to what the priorities should be, given you can't do everything all the time, and you have to decide which is better in the public interest.

So, for example, we've half a million people using cannabis in Scotland every week. Technically you could arrest every single one of them and give them a criminal record. I mean, that's the law, but you don't do that because it would be ridiculous. So you don't bust every student with a joint or every kid at a club with a pill or whatever.

So, my -- I'm coming to, my question is this: if someone were to set up a drug consumption center in Glasgow or elsewhere, and to say this is an intervention that, you know, the crisis now demands that we do, would it be in the public interest for Police Scotland to close that down and to arrest people?

ASSISTANT CHIEF CONSTABLE STEVE JOHNSON: I think, given our duty around preservation of life, I don't think it would be in the broader public interest.

But, from an officer perspective, so if you're an officer and you are walking the streets of Glasgow where that facility is and you've stopped someone who is on their way in possession of those drugs, there is a hefty dose of the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” squad.

So if the person doesn't then go to the safe facility and take those drugs, where they have access to naloxone, medical support and medical intervention, but takes himself down by the side of the Clyde and injects and falls in the river and dies, the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” would be, what are the police doing?

You had a power; you didn't exercise it. That person should have been in a custody facility, put in front of the sheriff, from the sheriff to the court -- and we know the story. But that's a harsh reality faced.

We see police officers making life and death decisions -- albeit at the time it doesn't feel like a life and death decision -- that's trying to base the pragmatism of preservation of life and potentially work with a facility like that, yet society, the litigious nature of society is, that it would probably be seen as a death after police contact, a referral to the PIRC, an officer’s life in turmoil for making what they thought was a pragmatic, right decision for the right sort of outcome but just didn't actually work out that way.

So within the system there's not that much clarity. There is a fear because actually we should be -- you know, 1971. If a thousand people died on the roads in Scotland, we would have seen changes in the Road Traffic Act. We'd have seen enforcement being different in that. We would have also seen a systemic and whole system approach to that, which we have seen in terms of road traffic, in terms of building -- vehicle designs, preventative activity.

So we're not seeing consistency in approach around the nature of harm. So when a thousand-odd people die, it seems a little bit odd that actually 48 years after an Act, when, given the increase in technology and the proliferation of the use of technology in the commission of the supply, so this can be delivered to people’s houses who are very very vulnerable, very very young, easy access, completely invisible to an awful lot of law enforcement or the medical profession.

So we're not seeing the legislation keep step with society and the advances in society, let alone protecting officers who are trying to uphold the law for all the best intentions around preservation of life.

PETER WISHART, MP: Yes, Professor Stevens.

PROFESSOR ALEX STEVENS, PHD: I think this is fascinating, because what we're hearing is the police creating ways to reduce the harm that's being done by the Misuse of Drugs Act, with police at local level saying, This is a -- if we fully implemented this law of criminalizing everyone who we find in possession of these substances, we would be creating harm, so in the interests of serving our communities we're not going to create those harms. We're going to find ways of not doing that.

The problem is that it then leaves the police services and individual officers in invidious positions such as have just been described.

We were asked earlier about the difference between diversion and decriminalization. Yes, one of the advantages of decriminalizing it and doing in the law is you are reducing this ambiguity and helping the police, in terms of giving them some clarity both at the individual officer level and at the service level, as to what the Government and the public wants us to do about drugs that actually does reduce harm rather than increasing the harms of this vulnerable population.

PETER WISHART, MP: It -- it almost strikes me, like, there's almost like a dishonesty going on here. The Government have got one approach that they've decided is going to be their policy towards drugs, and that's what they present to the public: they're tough on drugs, they're not going to change the law, they're sending out a message because of legality.

Then we have senior police officers and police officers on the street doing something entirely different. Wouldn’t it be just much better to have a consistency of policy and approach?

PROFESSOR ALEX STEVENS, PHD: I mean, there's two simple things that could be done to create some of that consistency. So, for example, the Misuse of Drugs Regulations could be amended so that it was no longer an offense for a person who was employed by a drug consumption room to be in possession of a substance. That would help the police be clear about whether they do or do not arrest those people.

We could amend Section Eight of the Misuse of Drugs Act to make it clearer that people who are running a drug consumption room are not going to be subject to prosecution for running a premises that's being used for production of drugs. These are quite simple changes that could be made.

TOMMY SHEPPARD: How could they be amended? Could that be done by
secondary legislation?

PROFESSOR ALEX STEVENS, PHD: The Misuse of Drugs Act is secondary legislation, so that would be easier than changing the Misuse of Drugs --

TOMMY SHEPPARD: A statutory instrument could give effect to that?

PROFESSOR ALEX STEVENS, PHD: That one -- there are -- the Misuse of Drugs Regulation -- sorry, Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 already include exemptions -- people who are exempt from the offence of possession.

So you could expand that list of exemptions to include people who are working in a drug consumption room. And that would be very easy. There's a statutory instrument going through right now correcting an error that was made around the banning of third generation synthetic cannabinoids.

PETER WISHART, MP: When do you think that statutory instrument will be presented to
Parliament?

PROFESSOR ALEX STEVENS, PHD: So, it's a statutory instrument. It could be done pretty quickly.

DOUG MCVAY: While we time, we're going to skip to the very end of that hearing, and a question that gets put by Tommy Sheppard, Member of Parliament, Scottish National Party.

TOMMY SHEPPARD: I'm intrigued by this question. We've got -- we've got two representatives of two English forces in front of us who, and we've invited you here because you're doing interesting and innovative stuff. And I think in each case the PCC has given the political backing to this, as it were.

What I'm now curious about is to whether or not you guys are on your own in terms of the general view of operational police managers in this country, or whether you think your colleagues in the other forces, who maybe, they may not have the same particular schemes that you have in operation, but whether the general feeling is there that actually the '71 Act now needs to be changed, repealed, overhauled, or whatever.

Would you say that that's -- ? And of course, we see an awful lot of former police officers who, no longer constrained by the -- by office, are actually joining in the campaign for legislative change.

So, do you think it is now the received -- the settled view of the police service throughout England that the law needs to be changed? And to Steve Johnson, you know, you presumably are in contact, you talk with colleagues in other forces. Do you think that this is something that should be reflected in Scotland if indeed it is a significant overall change?

ASSISTANT CHIEF CONSTABLE STEVE JOHNSON: I was just thinking then, you know, for the Act to have come into force in 1971, that means most of the work was probably done in the late '60s.

If you think back to the late '60s -- I am just about able to remember that -- actually the technological advances, the science advantages, the distribution networks, in many respects this one aspect of policing, and even the title “Misuse of Drugs” or the supply of drugs, and the use of drugs within our society, if there's one area that is ripe for a refresh of the legislation and a refresh of the evidence base, I would suggest it's the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

TOMMY SHEPPARD: Are your two forces the exception that proves the rule or are you out on a limb?

SUPERINTENDENT KEVIN WEIR: No, from our point of view I think we weren’t alone. It's supported by the chief constable and it's supported by the PCVC in Durham. There's trial areas, the Ministry of Justice looked for four trial areas, which they've in West Yorkshire and other forces.

And there's also four other forces in the country that are currently running whatever their force’s Checkpoint scheme is, so I think -- Not just in relation to drugs but across the whole critical pathways agenda and the diversion within the law, lots and lots of other forces have come around to the issue that we've to do something different. And if other people cannot do it, the police will have to do it in consultation with partners.

Whether that means that they all agree that there should be changes to the Misuse of Drugs Act? I guess lots of them do think there should, but I don’t know anybody who would say that, but it stands to reason that if you're trying to work with people to reduce the harms they're caused because they are vulnerable people themselves, lots of British policemen would think that you should reform it.

PETER WISHART, MP: You obviously cannot speak on behalf of all the police forces across the whole of the United Kingdom, but does the Police Federation, for example, take a view on this? What is their current approach to the Misuse of Drugs Act? And how would we get a view of the police force, if you want to call it as such, across the UK on this issue?

CHIEF INSPECTOR JASON KEW: Yeah, the federation has come out, I believe, for a public consultation on drug policy towards the health-based approach. That was at the last conference. Correct me if I'm wrong on that.

PETER WISHART, MP: We will see if we can locate that then.

CHIEF INSPECTOR JASON KEW: But, there is a national working group within the National Police Chiefs’ Council for out-of-court disposals, which is what our scheme fits within and that of Checkpoint. So there is an appetite nationally for change for a number of offenses, not just drugs, and yeah, we are moving in that direction.

But I think if you collectively asked the opinion of most police officers, I would -- dare I say this, but I think that there is a general appetite for a health-based approach to simple possession.

ASSISTANT CHIEF CONSTABLE STEVE JOHNSON: I think the national position, the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead could obviously provide that view on behalf of the police service as a whole.

I think what's really interesting is, for the police service, I think we're very good and where we are responsible and accountable we take the lead and we take the lead with pride and we get stuck in. I think we find ourselves in the difficult position where we have been in the lead. I think all the informed wisdom is that this is a health issue.

I think one of the interesting things would be, are health happy now to take the lead? Yes, so we can talk about changes in the legislation from an enforcement perspective, but actually health service will need a change in the legislation as a key enabler for them to do their work.

And I think seeking the views of senior police officers and the National Police Chiefs’ Council is one thing, but actually, the health service as well. If this is going to be seen as a health issue rather than just the police saying it is, then that's going to need an enabling framework.

PROFESSOR ALEX STEVENS, PHD: And that would imply a change in lead responsibility at UK level from the Home Office being -- chairing the UK Drug Strategy Board to the Department of Health and Social Care chairing the Drug Strategy Board so that health is clearly in the lead.

And I also think, going back to an earlier question about evidence, that that would, if the Department of Health and Social Care were in charge of drug policy and coordinating drug policy across Departments, then the Department of Health has a more institutional commitment to the use of evidence and spending money wisely on the basis of evidence than does the Home Office.

So I think that would also have the effect of introducing a more evidence-based approach to drug policy if the Department of Health and Social Care were in charge of it rather than the Home Office.

PETER WISHART, MP: And we all remember the example of Professor Nutt when he was presenting his particular proposals to Government, and the way that a press campaign was almost organised and orchestrated against.

DOUG MCVAY: We just heard a hearing before the Scottish Affairs Committee of the House of Commons. The chair of the Committee was Pete Wishart. The question you just heard put was by Member of Parliament Tommy Sheppard.

The witnesses were Professor Alex Stevens from the University of Kent, Chief Inspector Jason Kew from Thames Valley; Assistant Chief Constable Steve Johnson from Police Scotland; and Superintendent Kevin Weir from the Durham Police.

And that's it for this week. Thank you for joining us. I'm Doug McVay and you have been listening to Century of Lies. We're a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net.

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We'll be back in a week with thirty more minutes of news and information about drug policy reform and the failed war on drugs. For now, for the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay saying so long. So long!

For the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay asking you to examine our policy of drug prohibition: the century of lies. Drug Truth Network programs archived at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.