This Turkey is a Government adviser. His salary was bigger than Tony Blair’s. In his previous job he distinguished himself in one area. He had the most expensive haircut in his profession.
In May 1994 the Guardian quoted him :
“The present policies are not working. We seize more drugs, we arrest more people but when you look at the availability of drugs, the use of drugs, the crime committed because of and through people who use drugs, the violence associated with drugs, it’s on the increase. It can’t be working.”
Very sensible. Even courageous for a Chief Constable. The situation is worse now. Sadly the Chief Constable was metamorphosised into a Drugs Czar. On a round of soft interviews when he first had the job two years ago Keith Hellawell blamed everyone else because his policies were not working. The European Drugs Monitoring group reported in December that :-
“Levels of recorded drug abuse in Britain are up to five times higher than in other European countries. Allowing for all differences in national surveys, the UK has significantly higher use than those of other countries.
Nothing has changed. Except Keith. He is proud that he was picked to reign as Czar from 200 applicants. Had he remained steadfast to his ‘94 views he would not have been shortlisted. He was appointed because he reflected the dismal futile policies of the last and the present governments.
As I told him when he got the job, ‘The politicians want a fall guy. Someone to blame, when it goes wrong again. It’s you, Keith’. He has been as successful in reducing drug use as King Canute was in halting the incoming tide.
His excuse is that he has a 10 year strategy and it’s too early to judge. Cobblers ! The strategy is prohibition. The same policies that have failed here for 20 years and in the States for 30 years. It’s not working so we don’t fix it. The only new thing we have had from Keith is his silly title.
Ten years is a convenient time scale. By then Keith will be retired and Tony Blair will be Lord Sedgefield. The choice is between ‘tough’ or ‘intelligent’ drug policies. America’s tough anti-drug wars have cost $28 billion , packed their jails, and enriched a criminal empire of gangsters. Drugs traffickers planes have been shot down, drugs fields have bombed and defoliated. Some drug users have had longer prison sentences than murderers. The result is huge levels of drugs use, crime and corruption which are still increasing.
Holland’s intelligent drug policy of decriminalisation has cut the use of drugs there far below Britain’s level. Their use of soft and hard drugs among Dutch people is decreasing. The answer is a national debate through a Peoples’ Commission to consider the intelligent options.
To their credit Channel Four Television set up their own Citizen Commission . A group of bright people representative of the country spent months investigating the problem. They visited Holland, Switzerland, prisons and the police. They decided by a 7 to 1 vote that decriminalisation of soft drugs was the best way to cut drug abuse. Keith Hellawell refuses to consider it.
Keith Hellawell, More Drugs’ Nanny than Drug’s Czar ?
Keith's Demise came early. But he is is deep denial and cannot face the ignominy of being sacked.
He rejected suggestions on the 2nd August 2001 that he had been placed under too much pressure by Labour ministers who had "overhyped" the importance of his role.
As he defended his record. He said there would never be a time when people were not addicted to substances and when other people were not profiting from those addictions.
"I never said – ever, ever, ever – that we would resolve this problem," he said. "What I did say was that we could make a difference."
Quite right, Keith. You made a difference. Use of all drugs has increased, so have drugs deaths in the four years you have enjoyed your £106,000 salary. Yes, still Keith believes he has done a great job.
The demoted Drugs Czar clutches at a few straws in his final report today. In four years there has been no improvement in the level of drug harm or drug deaths.
Keith Hellawell’s sad claim that increased heroin seizures represent a ‘success’ is nonsense. He would have claimed a success if seizures had gone down. More seizures almost certainly mean an increase in heroin traffic.
An accurate measure of heroin imports is the street price. That has not changed in 20 years- proving that the supplies are still reaching the streets in huge quantities. All surveys indicate an increase in hard and soft drug use in the past 4 years.
He can claim little except that more money has been thrown at the problem. More bureaucratic committees have been set up and more anti-drug education schemes of questionable value have been introduced. None has succeeded in cutting harm.
The increased spending on treatment is the only sensible policy. Even that has been made grudgingly. It’s still the case that the only way to receive immediate drug treatment is to commit a crime.
On the day that the czar was first appointed I told him that he was the fall-guy for government policy. All British Governments over the past 30 years have seen increases in drugs use. Now the Czar will take the blame.
The Czar is dead. Long live the new born intelligent debate.