A POLICE chief says decriminalisation is the only way to win the war on drugs.
Durham Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Ron Hogg is calling for drug addicts not to be persecuted but to be helped.
He says this is the only way to tackle the problems associated with drugs, including organised crime and the spread of HIV.
Mr Hogg says criminalising drug addicts has been a “destructive force in every conceivable arena”.
Mr Hogg appeared in the Mail last October calling for drug addicts to be given heroin to inject under close medical supervision, following the success of trials in places including Darlington.
Now he says there is “overwhelming evidence” to support decriminalisation.
But the Home Office says it has no intention of decriminalising drugs, adding that the current approach is seeing a downward trend in drug use.
Mr Hogg, who was a police officer for 30 years, working with the Cleveland and Durham forces, said: “Imagine a world with no heroin on our streets. “No money for heroin being put in the hands of organised crime.
“No spread of HIV or hepatitis B/C through shared and dirty needles.
“No needles littering our streets. No fatal overdoses. No more pressure from organised criminals to remain addicted.
“No more theft or prostitution to feed drug habits.
“This is what decriminalisation could achieve.”
He said that the “isolation and persecution of addicts is uncivilised, unsuccessful, and too often wholly unaddressed” and said countries such as Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain had started to address it.
But a Home Office spokesperson said: “The Government has no intention of decriminalising drugs.
“The UK’s approach on drugs remains clear: we must prevent drug use in our communities, help dependent individuals through treatment and wider recovery support, while ensuring law enforcement protects society by stopping the supply.”
Mr Hogg’s calls echo comments made by Durham Police’s Chief Constable Mike Barton last year.