Tag Archives: Government

The UK should legalise and regulate ‘legal highs’

The UK should consider a well-regulated industry of synthetic drugs as a way of keeping users safe, according to one of the pioneers behind the ‘legal high’ industry.

Grant Hall, general manager of the STAR Trust, led the way in creating New Zealand’s ‘Psychoactive Substances Act’. It is the only legislation in the world that allows the manufacture and sale of “social tonics”.


Grant Hall of the STAR Trust

Mr Hall said: “We also know that prohibition doesn’t reduce demand. It simply hands over control to organised crime networks who don’t do quality control, don’t check ID and don’t pay taxes.

“If the Government take control within a strictly regulated regime, as New Zealand has done, then we would expect far less harms overall.”

Since the Psychoactive Substances Act was signed into law in July 2013, Mr Hall says the industry has reduced the level of harm to drug takers while allowing “ethical” manufacturers to flourish.

He said: “All the experts confirm is that if we focus on dealing with drug use as a health and welfare issue, as opposed to a criminal justice issue, we will get better outcomes for society as a whole.”

In 2012, ‘legal highs’ caused 52 deaths – almost double the amount in 2011. It is claimed that a 20-year-old from Gravesend died last week after taking an unknown substance.

Mr Hall said of the victims: “Any harms from any drugs [legal or illegal] is always devastating to any family and this is part of the reason why we are so committed to harm minimisation, health and safety.

“Our position is that we should let the scientists decide, independent of the politicians, what is low risk and how best to manage the protocols to market.”


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Fast-track police proposals could threaten the force

jeromeIt was interesting to talk with Chief Superintendent Neil Jerome of Kent Police about the proposals to fast-track police recruits to higher positions – because the Chief raised a perfectly valid point.

He said: “Experiencing what it is like at three in the morning to be plodding the beat, when you are on your own, gave me a far better and greater understanding of the job. My credibility, to my officers and staff, going out doing what I am asking them to do, is so much more enhanced because they know that I have done it myself.”

In that statement, Chief Superintendent Jerome has pointed out what I personally believe to be the biggest flaw in these proposals (and they are just proposals at this point; scrutiny is to be expected). You can’t simply teach people how to be a police officer, in the same way you can teach a trainee lawyer or a doctor. Policing requires experience. It requires men and women who have been on the streets, interacting with people. And this takes time; it took Chief Superintendent Jerome 19 years to work his way up the ladder and he considers himself to be one of the quicker officers to do so.

Everyone at the bottom of the hierachy needs to be able to look up to their superiors and know that they have shared the same experiences. Confidence is key and taking orders from someone who has done it all themselves will do exactly that.

Police Minister Damien Green said to the BBC: “There is no organisation in the world that cannot get better and it must be the case that if you widen the pool of talent, then you will get even better policing in this country.”

This is also a valid point but it could create problems. Encouraging military personnel or university graduates to join the service could definitely bring a fresh approach to policing, but it risks creating a culture where policing becomes simply a career, a chance for recruits to hop up the ladder and get to those senior positions. Chief Superintendent Jerome said: “You don’t come into policing unless you fundamentally believe in some of the ancient traditions around policing in this country.” Those “traditions” set policing aside from many other sections of society and it is this traditions that we must uphold if we are to have a successful, passionate police force. These proposals have the potential to change that and for that reason, they must be considered again.

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