Police chief in Denmark on heroin fact-finding mission

Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary, Mike Barton.
Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary, Mike Barton.

A POLICE chief has been on a fact-finding mission to Denmark to learn more about “controlled drug rooms”.

Durham Police Chief Constable Mike Barton has previously called for the decriminalisation of hard drugs like heroin.

He was due to appear on BBC1’s Inside Out programme on Monday night, which follows him to Copenhagen, where there is an experiment with controlled drug rooms and addicts can inject substances in a restricted environment.

Mr Barton’s views echo those of Durham Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Ron Hogg, who appeared in the Mail in October saying he believed the decriminalisation of hard drugs is the way forward in smashing organised crime.

Mr Barton is urging a “more sensible” approach and honest debate about tackling heroin abuse and says the war on drugs is failing.

He and Mr Hogg believe addicts should have access to “consumption rooms” where they could inject prescribed heroin legally.

Their idea is that using drug consumption rooms to treat heroin addiction should be explored further and that it would help take drugs off the streets and reduce crime.

They also say the heroin should be provided by the state to stop money going to criminals.

Though in the consumption rooms that Mr Barton was due to visit, users supply the drugs themselves.

The police chief says his approach was “not going soft on drugs” but “going sensible on drugs”.

He said: “I have thrown the kitchen sink at drug dealing and drug taking for 34 years and it’s not getting any better, in fact it’s getting worse and I’m saying let’s have that honest debate.

“What I’m saying is let’s take the money out of the business.”

Mr Barton appears on Inside Out North East and Cumbria on BBC1 at 7.30pm on Monday.