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Sunday, 16 December, 2001, 13:46 GMT
Halford condemns 'legal drugs' plan
A Welsh Assembly member who was once Britain's highest-ranking female police officer has condemned the suggestion that a Royal Commission should consider legalising all drugs.

Alison Halford, Delyn's Labour AM and a former assistant chief constable on Merseyside, has called the stance of North Wales Police Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom "intemperate and ill-conceived".

She said he has taken a step too far and is "wildly dangerous" to compare alcohol and tobacco as being more harmful than heroin and cocaine.

Welsh Assembly Member, Alison Halford
Alison Halford supports cannabis legalisation

Last week, Mr Brunstrom was backed by his police authority when he said a Royal Commission should investigate all options in the war against drugs, including their legalisation.

Miss Halford said that she had advocated the legalisation of cannabis for years, but never other, dangerous drugs such as crack cocaine and its derivatives.

And she warned that he has a dangerous logic when he says the battle against drugs cannot be won and therefore enforcement policies should be dropped.

"I can only imagine that his seemingly intemperate and ill-conceived comments for total liberalisation of drugs are designed to draw a response from the most immoderate and ill-informed anti-drug lobby," she said.

"Mr Brunstrom's argument that the battle can never be won because so many are now testing positive, and therefore we should throw in the towel, is a very dangerous route to follow.

Cannabis cigarette being rolled
MEP arrested at pro-cannabis demo

"He and his officers would soon be out of a job by applying that logic to armed robberies.

"Think of the many post offices that were robbed before arrests were made.

"Will burglaries, child abuse and criminal damage all be wiped off the statute books because of the low clear-up rates for these types of crime?"

Mr Brunstrom told his police authority that the war against drugs was being lost and that perhaps the only way to beat the scourge was to legalise them.

In a controversial report he compared the UK policy on banning the sale and possession of illegal drugs to that of America's alcohol prohibition in the 1920s and called for a Royal Commission to be set up to study the issue.

Miss Halford said that to compare alcohol and tobacco as being more harmful than heroin and cocaine was wildly irresponsible.

Heroin needles
Some addicts use crime to fund their habit

She said, problems with drink and cigarettes occur with abuse.

"Cannabis has medical properties and, again, used as a recreational drug it has its place," she said, but stressed she was not a smoker.

"I've advocated for years that we can go soft on pot but never with crack cocaine and its derivatives."

Miss Halford said that a Royal Commission would take years and would be costly.

BBC Wales' Robert Thomas and Penny Roberts report
"His ideas are seen as a way of making life easier for the police rather than the public."
Richard Brunstrom Chief Constable North Wales Police
"Drugs are freely available in our country."
Richard Brunstrom, North Wales Police
"Control of availability simply isn't working"
See also:

09 Nov 01 | UK Politics
Drugs war failing, MPs warn
05 Jul 01 | Health
Cannabis 'not medical panacea'
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