‘Maverick’ Policing Addressing Drugs Problems

Get Creative!Mike Barton, the Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary, has indicated that; Low-level drug dealers selling cocaine, Ecstasy or heroin to fund their own addiction will be able to avoid prosecution by signing up to a rehabilitation scheme (see here).

Mr Barton is a keen exponent of ‘problem-orientated’ policing. Someone renowned for ‘thinking outside the box’ when it comes to tackling crime and the fallout from criminal activity. His ‘new’ thinking often attracts media attention, and not always pleasant. His calls for ‘grown up’ debate around the often emotive subject of drugs and addiction have attracted a great deal of dissent.

They are technically dealers but if they are sad people rather than bad, we want to stop their addiction… (Mike Barton)

But he is right to challenge the efficacy of criminalisation alone… the so-called war on drugs has failed, outright prohibition isn’t working and never will. Just like American Prohibition which tried to eradicate alcohol during the 1920’s, we are in the throes of another monumental fail, without new thinking.

Constrained by the box?Not everyone agrees with Mike, or the host of professionals working within the field of addictions. Elizabeth Burton-Phillips, the founder of DrugFam a charity supporting families of drug users, was vociferous in her condemnation of the plans. Obviously it’s difficult to remove emotion from an opinion based upon the loss of a loved one but that’s exactly what is required.

Perhaps now, more than ever before, ‘mavericks’ like Michael Barton are exactly what the doctor ordered… If only to shake historic thinking and established but failed methods.



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