A Brighton MP and the city's top policeman have called for personal drug use to be decriminalised as part of a radical rethink on the war on drugs.
Chief Superintendent Graham Bartlett said that a different approach should be looked at to tackle Brighton and Hove’s position as the UK’s drugs death capital.
Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas said the “war on drugs has failed”.
The pair have called for a fresh debate to curb the number of drug addicts and the best way to treat them including making personal drug possession legal. However Ch Supt Bartlett stressed that the manufacture and supply of drugs should remain a crime.
Last year the city was named as Britain’s drugs death capital for the second year in a row with an average of almost one person a week dying as a result of drugs.
Dr Lucas, who is meeting doctors and NHS workers in Brighton to discuss drugs treatment tonight, said she wants to start a debate on the issue.
She said: “One of my top priorities as a local MP is to tackle Brighton and Hove’s very sad reputation as the drugs death capital of the UK.
“In order to do that, we need to recognise the reality that the so-called “war on drugs” has failed – and start dealing with drugs differently.
“I don’t think it will be easy. A new approach, based on treating drug addiction as a health issue not a criminal one, will represent a significant shift in thinking and any changes should be brought in slowly and carefully.”
Ch Supt Bartlett said: “My officers will continue to enforce the law as it stands. However, my personal view is that whilst production, supply and trafficking are and should remain crimes, the use of drugs is not well addressed through punitive measures.
“Providing people with treatment not only resolves their addiction – thereby minimising risk of overdose, drug related health issues, anti social behaviour and dependence on the state, for example – but cuts the cost to the community by reduced offending.”
For the full report see tomorrow’s Argus.