Drugs Bust-Up At The Met 

Drugs Bust-Up At The Met 
Posted by FoM on November 24, 2001 at 21:04:36 PT
By Martin Bright
Source: Observer 
Brian Paddick, the progressive head of Lambeth police, knew he was in trouble when he was called to a meeting at Scotland Yard at half past seven last Wednesday morning. The commander of one of the most testing boroughs in the capital had been summoned to see Assistant Commissioner Mike Todd, the tough-talking head of the Metropolitan Police's street policing operations and told to explain the extraordinary comments he had made in the House of Commons the previous day. 
Paddick had told the Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into drugs that he did not see the recreational weekend use of cannabis or even cocaine and ecstasy as a priority for his force, and argued that police time was better spent catching serious criminals further up the narcotics chain. Paddick had already caused considerable controversy for introducing a 'softly-softly' approach to cannabis possession in his borough by issuing cautions rather than arresting people when they were caught with small amounts of the drug. 'My view is that there are a whole range of people who buy drugs (not just cannabis, but cocaine and ecstasy) with money they have earned legitimately,' he told the inquiry. 'They use a small amount of this drug, a lot of them just at weekends. It has no adverse effect on the rest of the people that they are with. They go back to work on Monday morning and are unaffected for the rest of the week.' His words were careful and considered and marked a sea change in police policy towards drugs. The only problem was that Paddick did not have the authority to announce the change in policy. The meeting with Todd was a clash of police cultures. Paddick, Oxford-educated and the most senior openly gay officer in the force, represents a new breed of fast-track senior officers, hungry for reform and open to radical ideas. Todd is a more traditional coppers' copper with a taste in old-fashioned street policing, who wears his first-class degree from Essex University lightly. He was, for example, in charge of the controversial strategy of rounding up demonstrators on Oxford Street during this year's May Day anti-capitalist demonstrations. Todd was furious. He told Paddick that, although he accepted that the junior officer was speaking in a personal capacity, his words were in direct contradiction to the official line of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir John Stevens, who had just announced a crackdown on middle-class cocaine users in the clubs and bars of London's West End. In a morning that Brian Paddick is likely to remember for some time, he was then taken to receive a second carpeting from Stevens himself, who pointed out that his job was to uphold Metropolitan Police policy, a position he was forced to accept, although he has subsequently told friends that the meeting with Stevens ended with the Commissioner telling him to 'keep up the good work' in Lambeth. Scotland Yard then took the extraordinary step of issuing a statement officially distancing itself from Paddick's remarks. One source at the Association of Chief Police Officers said Brian Paddick had been 'naive' to think that his comments would go unnoticed by the media and unchecked by his superiors. 'Throughout the police service there are differences of opinion and ambiguities. This was a personal opinion based on his professional experience and he may have thought that was fine. But the Commissioner was never likely to see it that way.' Brian Paddick's comments have uncovered deep police divisions over the drugs issue which senior officers are keen to play down. But by the end of last week Sir John Stevens had been forced to reprimand a second senior officer - this time for going public with his criticism of Commander Paddick. In a letter to the Evening Standard Chief Superintendent Simon Humphrey, head of the Yard's Vice Squad, wrote: 'I wish to disassociate myself and my officers from the widely publicised comments of Commander Brian Paddick... he should be reminded that first and foremost Class A drugs kill.' Humphrey's approach is backed by the Police Federation, the union for beat officers whose members are said to be angry over Paddick's outspoken approach: 'If he wanted to have that conversation, he should have done it privately,' said Glen Smythe, Chair of the Metropolitan Police Federation. 'Ecstasy is unpredictable and kills without warning. Try justifying that to a parent whose child has died. If Commander Paddick does not have enough officers to deal with his priorities, he should just say so and lobby for more.' Janet Betts, the mother of Leah, who died after taking ecstasy at her 18th birthday party in 1995, delivered a withering attack on Brian Paddick after his statement to the Select Committee: 'We seem to be losing sight of the big idea that people should not be doing drugs in the first place. I'm sick of senior police officers who are just worried about balancing their books. They don't give a stuff about the kids on the street.' But Paddick's supporters claim he is simply being honest about policing priorities and saying publicly what many senior officers know to be the case. As Andy Hayman, who is responsible for drug policy at Acpo, told The Observer, many forces already issue cautions for first-time possession of ecstasy and no longer treat it as a Class A drug, such as heroin and cocaine. Acpo's own evidence to the Select Committee made it clear that they would support the declassification of ecstasy from the top category if medical and scientific evidence supported it. Paddick is said to be 'bullish' about the results of his six-month pilot scheme in Lambeth. He argues that a typical arrest takes his officers off the streets for five hours, costs 10,000 to bring to court and leads to an average fine of 46. But some officers in his Lambeth force privately say that the new system of automatic cautions is just as time-consuming. Dame Ruth Runciman, whose report on drugs for the Police Foundation in March recommended reform of the law on ecstasy and heroin, said Paddick's experiment in Lambeth had heralded a revolution in drugs policy. More than anything, it had paved the way for David Blunkett's announcement that the possession of small amounts of cannabis would no longer be an arrestable offence. 'These significant steps mean that we have a real opportunity to make our drug laws more credible, proportionate and effective,' she told The Observer. She said that her committee had emphasised the importance of developing a 'hierarchy of risk' and that, although there were around 20 deaths a year from ecstasy, this did not compare with the far larger number who died from heroin and crack cocaine. The shift in policy also recognises the importance of the work of academics such as Mike Hough, director of the Criminal Policy Research Unit at South Bank University, who has been arguing for years that there is no direct causal link between drug-taking and crime. 'Accepting the principle in the legislation that drugs should be classified according to objective levels of risk, I agree that ecstasy should be in a lower class than heroin, and cannabis in a lower class than ecstasy.' Organisations working in the drugs field have called on the police to stop fighting among themselves and develop a coherent line consistent with the newly liberal atmosphere. Roger Howard of the government-funded drugs charity Drugscope said: 'Our own submission to the Home Affairs Select Committee recommended policing reforms, so we are extremely happy with what has been said by David Blunkett and Brian Paddick.' But he said that Acpo should publish its full written submissions to the Runciman report and the Select Committee inquiries in an attempt to unify the differing policies on drugs arrests by forces across Britain. For the first time, drugs charities, academic experts, Home Office civil servants and the Home Secretary himself all accept the principle that Britain's drug laws are ripe for reform. But last week's events demonstrate that the faultline between reformers and traditionalists within the police force remains the biggest hurdle to genuine change in the one place it really matters - the street. Note: Senior officers are at loggerheads, should they pursue users or switch to softly-softly? Source: Observer, The (UK)Author: Martin BrightPublished: Sunday, November 25, 2001Copyright: 2001 The ObserverContact: letters Articles:We Don't Prosecute Ecstasy Users - Police Chief Police Prepared To Support Relaxed Laws Urge Radical Shift on Drugs
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Comment #2 posted by E_Johnson on November 24, 2001 at 22:03:23 PT
And the Catholics don't eat Christian babies 
'My view is that there are a whole range of people who buy drugs (not just cannabis, but cocaine and ecstasy) with money they have earned legitimately,' he told the inquiry. 'They use a small amount of this drug, a lot of them just at weekends. It has no adverse effect on the rest of the people that they are with. They go back to work on Monday morning and are unaffected for the rest of the week.' The return of the casual user!Why should such a small truth become such a big deal?But why was Louis Armstrong such a big deal to Harry Anslinger?It's an old story, isn't it? 
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Comment #1 posted by p4me on November 24, 2001 at 21:21:22 PT:
a little off topic
In the online site of the Hickory Record there was an interesting article about money and tobacco. The payments from the big three tobacco companies to the states are down about $100 million because the amount is based on sales. The article comes out and says that the states are in with the tobacco companies because of the money.Small companies that were not even sued are required to pay into a fund and the big tobacco companies want to make sure they pay this money so the big tobacco companies do not lose market share because of the price advantage the small companies could have. Market shares of the small companies have increased from 2 to 6 percent because people are becoming more price concious. Big tobacco does not like that and their lobbyist and lawyers are ready to protect their market share.I submit this link as relevant because marijuana prohibition is all about money. Big tobacco is about money also even if they destroy peoples health and kill them. I do not know if this link will be on the Hickory Record website after today.
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