he best social reform starts on the frontline. The news that the National Police Chiefs’ Council has decided to effectively decriminalise cannabis and cocaine in England is, for drugs reformers, sensational. It intends to extend nationwide the warning and treatment schemes that have already been piloted in Durham and Thames Valley. Instead of prosecuting users of hard drugs such as heroin, cocaine and ecstasy, officers will recommend addiction services (dealers, and those who refuse to cooperate, will still be prosecuted). So far, these schemes have been hugely effective in stopping reoffending and saving police time. This move flatly challenges the home secretary, Suella Braverman, who told the recent Tory conference she intended to take a hardline approach to drug offences. The government wants a “three strikes and you’re out” policy that would see drug users banned from driving and losing their passports. This is pure politics, not harm reduction.
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