June 20 2013 Latest news:
By Marijke Cox, Reporter
Monday, July 16, 2012
Thanet councillor Ian Driver says there needs to be a “root and branch” review of drug laws
An independent candidate standing in the police and crime commissioner race has controversially spoken out in favour of legalising drugs.
Thanet councillor Ian Driver, who is one of several independents hoping to bag the role of Kent’s first PCC, called the war on drugs a disaster and said there needed to be a “root and branch” review of legislation.
“Countless millions of pounds have been squandered in a hopelessly wrongheaded attempt to enforce an unenforceable prohibition,” he said.
“At least a quarter of Kent’s adult population have used or are using presently illegal drugs.
“Instead of criminalising these people and wasting taxpayer’s money, the Government should consider legalisation, which would immediately free up resources to more effectively combat vandalism, domestic violence, sexual assault, and dangerous driving.
“It’s my view that the idiot entering the roundabout at speed with one hand on the steering wheel and the other holding his mobile phone poses an infinitely greater threat to the public wellbeing than a couple of teenagers sharing a cannabis spliff.”
Mr Driver, who manages the Thanet Citizen Advice Bureau, said legalisation would generate new tax income to be invested in the NHS and schools.
“Everyone in the community will benefit — with the exception of the drug barons who will be put out of business.”
He also sensationally claimed a large number of MPs and Lords “indulge” in illegal drugs.
“None of the three big parties dares say no to ongoing stupidity about drugs enforcement for fear of the other two capitalizing politically on their daring,” he said.
“As an independent though, I am able to think out of the box about police and crime issues.”
But his Tory rival Craig Mackinlay, who is a magistrate on the north Kent branch, said Mr Driver’s comments were an outrage.
“I’m talking from absolute experience here. Eighty per cent of acquisitive thieves are drug users. We’ve been losing the war on drugs for some 30 years,” he said.
“There has not been enough help available. The last thing we need is to legalise it.
“The problem with long term drug use is users are unemployable and unlikely to get work.
“The long term health impact is many of them in the future suffer from deep vein thrombosis or liver problems.
“The real cost of each drug user is £480,000 each. We need to support them to stop them doing drugs by making education, accommodation, training and other support services available.”
The 45-year-old chartered accountant said he defied the claim that cannabis is harmless.
“It is about 100 times stronger than it was in 70s and 80s. Now it’s skunk cannabis,” he said.
“It’s very rare that I see a youngster in court that is not on some anti-psychotic drug. I see a lot of psychoses and schizophrenics.
“Most are 21 or 22 and started using cannabis when they were 14. They are never likely to work and they are not employable.
“I have absolute experience here; to call for legalisation is an outrage.
“There’s a call for a national debate on drugs and that would be useful. But this is not the time to be saying they should be legalised.”
Mr Mackinlay said a scheme in Chatham involving supporting street prostitutes who were using drugs saw the number of users drop from 120 to 15.
“We ran a scheme offering wraparound services to stop their chaotic lifestyles,” he said.
“It’s proven to work and that’s what we should be pushing for.”
Mr Driver and Mr Mackinlay will stand in November’s elections for the position of Kent’s police and crime commissioner.
The PCC, which will hold a four-year term, will take over from the existing Kent Police Authority and will have the power to hold Kent Police to account, determine a policing strategy, set the budget, and hire and fire the chief constable.
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