Europe: Scottish First Minister Slams Police for Drug Legalization Suggestion 5/5/06

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Three weeks ago, Scotland's Strathclyde (Glasgow area) Police Federation, the county's largest police union, called for the legalization of all drugs. Last week, the Strathcylde federation's proposal was among the topics of discussion at the Scottish Police Federation conference, and that was too much for First Minister Jack McConnell, who pronounced himself "astonished" at the very idea.

"I think it would be a totally irresponsible step. I will not support it, and I do not believe it reflects the opinion of police officers the length and breadth of Scotland," McConnell said after the conference. "Every ordinary officer I have spoken to supports a tough approach to the legislative framework on drugs and a tough approach to enforcement."

McConnell must not have spoken to Inspector Jim Duffy, chairman of the Strathclyde federation, who said three weeks ago: "We should legalize all drugs currently covered by the Misuse of Drugs Act -- everything from class A to C, including heroin, cocaine and speed. We are not winning the war against drugs and we need to think about different ways to tackle it. Tell me a village where they are drug-free," he said. "Despite the amount of resources and the fantastic work our girls and guys do, we are not making a difference. We don't have any control at the moment."

Firmly holding his hands over his ears, McConnell said that legalization was not part of his agenda and that he couldn't believe police officers could say such a thing. "I think it would be a disaster. I'm totally against it and I'm shocked that any members of the Police Federation would want to support this."

Perhaps, as Inspector Duffy's remarks suggested, the police support legalization because they have witnessed a 300% increase in drug use in Scotland since the 1960s, despite decades of law enforcement efforts to suppress it.

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Issue #434 -- 5/5/06

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