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Home Affairs Committee - Drugs: Breaking the Cycle - Minutes of EvidenceHC 184-II

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House of commons

oral EVIDENCE

TAKEN BEFORE THE

Home Affairs Committee

Drugs

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Danny Kushlick and Niamh Eastwood

Chief Constable Tim Hollis CBE QPM and Tom Lloyd

Trevor Pearce

Evidence heard in Public Questions 430 - 537

USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT

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Oral Evidence

Taken before the Home Affairs Committee

on Tuesday 11 July 2012

Members present:

Keith Vaz (Chair)

Mr James Clappison

Michael Ellis

Lorraine Fullbrook

Dr Julian Huppert

Alun Michael

Bridget Phillipson

Mark Reckless

Mr David Winnick

________________

Examination of Witnesses

Witnesses: Danny Kushlick, Transform Drug Policy Foundation, and Niamh Eastwood, Release, gave evidence.

Chair: Order, can I call the Committee to order? This first session of the Committee’s deliberations this morning relate to our inquiry into drugs. Could I welcome Mr Kushlick and Ms Eastwood; thank you very much for coming to give evidence. Are there any interests that need declaring in respect of this inquiry?

Alun Michael: Simply in relation to the police elements. I am a candidate for the Police Commissioner role in South Wales.

Q430 Chair: Thank you, Mr Michael. All the other interests of members are declared in the Register of Members’ Interests. Could I start with this question? Both of you are in favour of either relaxing or decriminalising our drug laws. Ms Eastwood, why is that?

Niamh Eastwood: Firstly, thank you to the Committee for the invite today. Release has just published a new report, "A Quiet Revolution: Drug Decriminalisation Practices Across the Globe", and we looked at over 25 to 35 jurisdictions across the world that have adopted decriminalisation, and overwhelmingly we find that drug use did not increase in any statistically significant way. Our definition of decriminalisation is the application of known criminal sanctions to drug possession offences and in some cases to cultivation of cannabis for personal use.

The question then arises: why pursue a harsh criminal justice approach and the harms of criminalisation that impact on an individual? For example, it has a negative impact on employment, on educational aspirations and, furthermore, it stigmatises individuals and we would argue that this is a barrier both to treatment for those who use drugs problematically and a barrier to full integration into society for those who use drugs problematically and those who use drugs non-problematically.

So we believe the evidence is there for decriminalisation. We believe it reduces the harms of the current system and it should be properly considered as a response to drug use.

Danny Kushlick: Thank you to the inquiry for inviting me too. I gave evidence back in 2001 to the drugs inquiry that HASC ran then and our evidence is going to be similar but worse in terms of what has happened in the intervening period. Our view is that the global war on drugs and the domestic war on drugs should be ended and that we need to put in place an overarching system of regulation and control. The reason is that prohibition does not work. What it does not do is stop people using drugs: 270 million people use drugs worldwide, a billion have lifetime use, and that stimulates a trade valued by the United Nations at $320 billion a year. It creates an incredible amount of crime. It basically operates a wrong-headed approach towards dealing with, as Niamh said, use and misuse. People who are using, who are not causing a problem to themselves or to other people, do not need the intervention of the criminal justice system and people who have problems need health intervention. On the supply side the Government ought to be in control of the trade, not international organised crime.

Q431 Chair: We will come on to that later. Ken Clarke, the Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, when we had him before us to talk about this issue, specifically what was happening in prisons-we were very alarmed at the amount of drugs in prisons-made a statement to the effect that the war on drugs had been lost. Do you agree with him?

Danny Kushlick: Absolutely, the war on drugs was never winnable, on the basis that the numbers of people who use have risen year on year on year to such extraordinarily high levels; it was never going to be a war that was going to be winnable; in the same way that the war on alcohol, in terms of prohibition in the 1920s and 1930s, was never going to be winnable, unless the numbers could be kept down to a level low enough to keep organised crime and criminality out of the supply side.

Niamh Eastwood: I completely agree, we have not won the war. In fact what we have done is we have created greater harms with the policies that we pursue at the moment. I have mentioned decriminalisation but we see the damage around the world that is done in the global illicit trade of drugs where we have handed it over to organised crime and people who are essentially driven by huge profits because of the illicit nature of this market.

Q432 Lorraine Fullbrook: When the Home Affairs Select Committee visited the United States and Colombia we met with six organisations who were in favour of either decriminalisation or legalisation of drugs and none of them could articulate what the vision was after decriminalisation or legalisation. What does the world look like? Can you articulate what the world would look like after decriminalisation or legalisation?

Danny Kushlick: In 2009 in this House we launched a publication called "After the War on Drugs: Blueprint for Regulation", which shows the technical detail of how drugs could be controlled and regulated in a post-prohibition world, and that shows how they can be controlled through pharmacies, through licensed outlets and through doctors. On the supply side we already have half of the world’s opium grown for the legal market: 8,500 hectares of UK arable land are under cultivation for opium poppy for supply to the licit opium industry. None of it is taxed by the Taliban. None of it contributes to the profits of organised crime so we know how to do that.

We know how to control drugs in terms of production and supply for pharmacies and we know how to do it for licensed retailers. What we also know is if you prohibit a demand-led trade all you do is you gift it to organised crime and unregulated dealers, so the regulatory frameworks are all currently in place. This is not a step into the unknown. In fact, prohibition was a step into the unknown.

Niamh Eastwood: In terms of decriminalisation, which is what we advocate for as a first step because we believe the evidence is there for it, I think we can look around the world, at the countries that have already adopted it and see how it has impacted on those countries. Overwhelmingly, as I said, drug use does not go up. But we have some examples from Australia, for example, where they have decriminalised cannabis possession and cultivation and they have had very positive results.

There was a study that compared two states-one that had criminalised use and one that had not-and it found that individuals who were criminalised had greater negative outcomes in terms of employment, education, accommodation, relationships and were more likely to re-enter the criminal justice system. So I think in terms of decriminalisation then, yes, we can see what it looks like.

With regards to regulation it is more complicated. Release argues for an evidence-based approach to this. I would support a lot of what Danny has said but what we would say is, for example, with cannabis it is probably easier for us to move forward regulating that drug and it is very much dependent on the drugs. This is not a homogenous group of drugs. They are very different in the way that they are used and their impact and we have to have different policies for them.

Q433 Bridget Phillipson: Mr Kushlick, you were talking just a moment ago about the comparisons or analogy that can be drawn with alcohol and how prohibition of alcohol did not work, and I accept that. But equally with alcohol have we not seen because of the growing availability and cost a growing problem with social harm associated with alcohol? What do you think on that point but also would you extend that analogy further because obviously you are advocating decriminalisation?

Danny Kushlick: We are advocating control and regulation. That is the key here. In our submission we have a graphic that demonstrates how at one end of the spectrum the over-commercialisation and lack of control of multi-national companies who produce and sell alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceuticals effectively have deregulated the market and, at the other end, we have prohibition, which effectively deregulates the market but in a different way and gifts it to organised criminals. In the middle there are significant opportunities for Government to intervene in terms of price, outlets, production, supply and that is where we are heading. What we are trying to do is close that gap, so yes, we fully recognise that an overly commercialised market can drive up levels of use to horrendous levels, but this is because of a lack of control of those multi-national companies who effectively run the trade themselves. What we are calling on is for Government to restrain and regulate far more powerfully current illicit drugs and at the same time take control of the prohibited trade and put in place best practice in terms of control and regulation.

Q434 Mr Winnick: Do you think there is some sort of contradiction between the Justice Secretary saying, as he did last week, that the war on drugs has not succeeded, it has failed, and immediately afterwards telling us that he is very much in favour of continuing with the policy? Do you see that as a contradiction?

Danny Kushlick: Far be it from me to call into question Ken Clarke’s evidence, but what disturbed me about what he said was that he had not had any blinding revelations about what to do about it. So for me the concern was that having recognised that there is a significant problem here and that we are indeed losing the war on drugs and, as Niamh was saying, it was totally counter-productive. Look at Mexico where 55,000 people have killed each other over the last four years. It has destabilised the entire Latin American region, West Africa, Afghanistan-this is a global problem that is causing genocide.

There are not that many options that we need to look at. One is intensifying the war on drugs, which seems to me to be patently stupid given the evidence that we have had over the last 50 years. We can carry on as normal, which we clearly cannot, because it is not working. We can move to a public health approach and decriminalise drugs or we can look at full legal regulation, ending the war on drugs and bringing it under the control of the Government. Those are the only options that we have, and I think that in the absence of Mr Clarke’s definitive solution to what is going on, we need a review that looks at all those options and explores cost benefit analysis, conducts value for money studies and begins to put an evidence base on all those options.

Q435 Mr Winnick: I am not unsympathetic, as you may or may not know, to the view that you have just expressed, but what do you say to the argument that, in fact, on the use of drugs, all the statistics show the use of drugs is such that it is falling. For example, it fell significantly from 11% in 1996 to 8.8% in 2010-11. Cannabis fell from around 9.5% in 1996 to 6.5% in 2010-11, so the argument is it is falling. With all the failures, the Justice Secretary said; if you are going to do what you have advocated for so many years, it will reverse the trend.

Danny Kushlick: Some use is going up and some use is going down. Overall, global use remains steady: 270 million used in the last year, a billion lifetime use. The problem is that at those levels of use you stimulate insecurity, destabilisation of developing countries and transit routes. You just spawn opportunities for organised crime and create criminality and a whole host of other problems: health problems, stigma and discrimination, human rights issues, and a waste of money of gargantuan proportions. Currently it costs $100 billion a year to run prohibition, and if we continue doing it for another 10, it is going to cost us $1 trillion. The value for money is poor, to say the least. It is counter-productive. What we need to do is get back and look at the evidence of what the policy is causing.

Use is only one indicator. Levels of security of developing countries that are involved in production and supply, the value for money, all this evidence, which Transform has been calling on Government to produce for the last nearly 20 years now, which it still will not because it cannot show that it is producing value for money across that host of indicators, across those departments. Until we have it we should-

Q436 Mr Winnick: And the drug barons, not just the street corner characters who do certainly much harm, but the drug barons who usually operate on an international scale, are they happy, do you think, with the existing law?

Danny Kushlick: They will be delighted to the extent that any country, Government, continues to support the status quo, the prohibition; that is manna for them. That is what they want. The last thing that they want, and the big losers in terms of a move away from prohibition towards Government-control and regulation, as was the case for alcohol prohibition, is international organised crime and unregulated dealers; businessmen who do not pay tax.

Q437 Mr Winnick: You would agree with that, Ms Eastwood?

Niamh Eastwood: I certainly agree with much of what Danny says. I think that we have to take an incremental approach to change. I think in terms of the steps that you mentioned around drug misuse, first, statistics on drug misuse are not always reliable, people are not likely to disclose their use because of the illicit nature of it, and we do not have the message around this right. For example, the policy does not impact on use. We have seen that with reclassification of cannabis and various other illicit substances.

Q438 Dr Huppert: You have talked quite a bit about evidence and I come back on some of that. Public opinion is also quite important in this area. Have you seen the article recently in The Sun, not noted as a bastion of liberalism, I have to confess, which says, "Legalise drug use, say Brits in poll". Six out of 10 said they would back trials where users escape prosecution to get medical treatment-so, the Portuguese model. They interestingly also say that more people think that crime levels would fall if cannabis is made legal. Although I am sure my colleagues would not be interested in this, they also find that people in all ages, all genders, and all voting intentions would be more likely to support a political party that supported a move that way. Do you think there is a trend in what is happening? Do you accept those figures and do you think it is becoming more and more acceptable both in the UK and around the world?

Niamh Eastwood: Absolutely. I think the public is moving on this issue. I think that is both driven by a recognition that the policy is failing and a recognition of the cost involved. I also believe that the growing call from very high-level individuals around the world has impacted on people’s views so we had the Global Commission on Drugs Policy come out in June 2011 calling for a review, calling for decriminalisation and for Governments to experiment with cannabis regulation. That commission is made up of a range of individuals. There are several ex-Presidents on it, Kofi Annan is a member, Richard Branson-these are intelligent-

Chair: We have taken evidence from them already. We know the score.

Niamh Eastwood: Sorry. I think that has had an impact on it. I also think that in terms of policing that people see, especially in the UK, high levels of proactive policing around drug possession, and that undermines their belief that this is necessary. What communities care about are crimes against the person, crimes against property. If we looked at a London Communities Poll back in 2009 drug possession was 22nd of concerns of Londoners, so we need to be questioning, why follow this?

Danny Kushlick: Could I come in on that one? For many years now the public has been ahead of senior politicians’ opinion and rhetoric on this issue. It has been a taboo and the mantra has been it would be political suicide to make moves on this issue. This evidence from The Sun and the YouGov poll shows that the public is now a majority in terms of support for change and that cover now of saying that the Mail will take us apart, The Sun will take us apart, the public will not come with us, is wrong. It is just wrong. The evidence shows that we have now moved to the point where politicians need to put this on the agenda. It was actually slightly higher; it was 58%. It is reported wrongly in The Sun, as 58% of the public support a review of all options including legal regulation, but the other interesting thing is only 22% oppose.

Q439 Dr Huppert: That is very helpful. Can I just briefly return to the assessment of what has happened in other countries, the real evidence? Two questions: one is, how do we know that what happens in those other counties will be replicable here? You have presented quite detailed evidence, I think, that there was no statistical increase in drug use. How can we be sure that would happen here? Also I notice that quite a number of those countries, while some have decriminalised all drugs, some have just done cannabis. What are the distinctions and the options here in the UK?

Niamh Eastwood: I think in terms of policy transference that is a legitimate question. As I have said, the report looked at over 20 countries that have adopted some form of decriminalisation. None of the countries that are states that we looked at were particularly similar or hegemonic. There were several Latin American countries, Western European countries, Australian states and US states that have decriminalised either all drugs or just cannabis. Different types of system as well, so we have systems where it was a de jure system, it was incorporated into statute law. We had de facto where it was a policing and prosecution-led policy. So it is absolutely right to say that there are different systems around the world and then the question, how do we know it would work here?

I would argue that several of the countries we looked at, and particularly Western Europe, Portugal, Belgium, Germany where drugs are decriminalised on a state level, all drugs, not just cannabis, and the US states and Australia, are very similar to our kind of cultural and social situation.

Danny Kushlick: Could I make a brief comment? One of the things about the blanket prohibition on non-medical use of drugs is that that is not country specific at all. It does not allow countries to experiment according to their own needs; so that lifting the blanket prohibition would enable countries to plan their own policies according to need. For some, that will mean hanging on to their prohibition. Saudi Arabians are not itching to decriminalise or legalise drugs but the Netherlands may well wish to go further, the Spanish, the Swiss and others.

Chair: We have quick supplementaries from Bridget Phillipson and Lorraine Fullbrook.

Q440 Bridget Phillipson: Ms Eastwood, just returning to your point around possession and how people view that as being lower down the list of their priorities. Of course if they are mugged or burgled because of someone’s drug use that is obviously when people understandably feel very strongly about drug use. In terms of Mrs Fullbrook’s point, what I am unclear about is in a decriminalised world where we have regulation how would that stop? What would that look like? I am still not entirely clear about how deregulation would inevitably mean that people are not stealing from others in order to buy drugs regardless of who that is from.

Niamh Eastwood: In terms of decriminalisation, which I said is the application of non-criminal sanctions, it would not impact on acquisitive crime linked to drug use and I am sure Danny will have points to make about the reason why acquisitive crime is driven by the current system. Essentially in the UK we criminalise 80,000 people every year for drug possession. Those are primarily young people. They are disproportionately from ethnic backgrounds and a reasonably large section will be problematic drug users. So Release delivers services in the community. We see every week people who are affected by problematic drug use. Many of those have not committed acquisitive crime and their barrier, once they are in recovery to getting back into employment is very much this criminal record. So it does not deal with all the problems of decriminalisation but, as I said, we see this as an evidence-based first step that can be done in the very short to medium term and that will impact positively on all those people who are criminalised currently.

Q441 Lorraine Fullbrook: Can I ask Ms Eastwood and Mr Kushlick, could you be specific about which drugs you would decriminalise and which drugs you would regulate?

Danny Kushlick: The question for us is across a series-

Lorraine Fullbrook: Just a list of which drugs you want to regulate.

Danny Kushlick: The question would be-

Chair: Mrs Fullbrook would like a list rather than going through her question.

Danny Kushlick: No, I am going to put this in context because it needs to be, which is which drugs would we want to leave in the hands of organised criminals and unregulated dealers? That is the first question. So the next one then is how could we best control drugs alternatively according to the best available evidence and we have basically four options other than prohibition.

Chair: We understand the context.

Lorraine Fullbrook: Give us a list of drugs you wish to do that to.

Danny Kushlick: We would like to see all the drugs that have heavy levels of demand so that-

Chair: So which are they?

Danny Kushlick: That would be heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, cannabis, stimulants, speed; all the ones that have heavy levels of demand, so it is back to the question of falling use. Unless you can keep the levels of use down you have to control supply.

Q442 Lorraine Fullbrook: Can I ask Ms Eastwood what you would do?

Niamh Eastwood: Very simple. We would decriminalise all drugs. Under that model it is still illegal but it is not a criminal offence, so it is a civil offence.

Lorraine Fullbrook: For all drugs?

Niamh Eastwood: Absolutely.

Q443 Lorraine Fullbrook: How do you square the circle with the illegal trade in prescription drugs?

Niamh Eastwood: That is a good question. Currently with prescription drugs we would argue-in decriminalisation people who use prescription drugs problematically are not being criminalised for that use, so it would not impact on what we are-

Q444 Lorraine Fullbrook: It is a huge issue in the United States and here.

Niamh Eastwood: Absolutely.

Danny Kushlick: It is. The fact is, it is increasingly difficult to control people’s use and to control those markets. But what we can do under a controlled regime is push the criminal market and the illegal use to the margins. At the moment the entirety of the heroin market, the cocaine market, the ecstasy market and the cannabis market are controlled by organised crime. Currently the case is with the legal ones that the illegal market is a much smaller proportion, so that the vast majority is under Government control and legally used. A small proportion of it - it can still be big – is illegally controlled.

Chair: Order, Mrs Fullbrook.

Lorraine Fullbrook: I would like to ask about legal highs.

Q445 Chair: We will come back at the end because there are other people asking questions. Just to be clear, in respect of your answer to Lorraine Fullbrook, you would only decriminalise or regulate those drugs where there is high demand, Mr Kushlick. You, Ms Eastwood, and your organisation are calling for regulation and decriminalisation of all.

Niamh Eastwood: No, we are just calling for decriminalisation. Regulation is different from decriminalisation.

Chair: Very clear, thank you very much. We will come back to you, Mrs Fullbrook.

Q446 Michael Ellis: Have either of you ever seen the effect of crime caused by people on drugs? Have you spoken to or taken any time to consider the effect on people who are subjected to burglaries, robberies or assaults due to people who are on drugs or seeking access to more drugs?

Danny Kushlick: I hope it was made clear in my biography. I used to be a drugs counsellor.

Chair: We have not read your biography so you need to give us a potted version.

Danny Kushlick: I will. I was asked for one beforehand and I presumed that the members of the Committee had read it, my apologies.

I used to be a drugs counsellor in the criminal justice system working with heavy-end heroin and crack users and it was very much my experience of working with that group of people that led me to believe that it was the prohibition, the criminalisation of their drugs, that was leading them to steal and become involved-can you just let me finish-in prostitution.

Q447 Michael Ellis: No, Mr Kushlick, you are here to answer questions, with respect.

Danny Kushlick: Absolutely.

Q448 Michael Ellis: So answer my questions if you would. The effect of crime is not necessarily visible from the people who are taking it but the victims of those people who are taking it, so have you taken the trouble to speak to victims of crime? Have you done that?

Danny Kushlick: I have indeed. The issue here-this is important and it relates to Ms Phillipson’s question-is why do people steal to support a habit? And the fact is that if you make a drug illegal and fail to control and regulate it then the price-there is a kind of alchemy of prohibition that turns vegetables at the point of production into products worth more than their weight in gold at the point of use. Someone who becomes dependent on that very expensive product will steal.

In the case of Switzerland where they prescribe heroin-this is going to explain to you, Mr Ellis, why there is-

Michael Ellis: Mr Kushlick, I do not need to know about Switzerland.

Chair: Order. This is a very interesting set of questions but what the rest of us need to know is the question and then the answer rather than-

Danny Kushlick: I am going to be able to complete-

Chair: If I can say, Mr Kushlick, that, time wise, we have a lot of other witnesses so the more succinctly you can put your point the more effective it would be.

Q449 Michael Ellis: I am going to make it clear to you, Mr Kushlick, for the absence of any ambiguity that I think your position is grossly irresponsible. I think there must be a proper regard to the effect of crime on the people who are victims of it, so I am concerned with the victims that I have seen, having been a barrister in criminal practice for 17 years before I came to this place, that people who are the victims of burglaries and robberies and assault would not think that the people who are on drugs when they committed those offences were in the right place.

Danny Kushlick: They are absolutely not, and the reason they are not in the right place is because their drugs are too expensive and that is because they are not controlled by the Government. Let me tell you about-can I please finish this, Mr Chairman?

Michael Ellis: No, I just want you to answer that point. On the other hand-

Danny Kushlick: Mr Chairman, please can I finish.

Chair: Order, if we could just let Mr Kushlick give his answer and then, Mr Ellis, please come back.

Danny Kushlick: So people who were dependent on heroin who are now prescribed, not just in Switzerland but in the UK, the rates of offending reduced significantly, sometimes down to almost zero because their drugs were free. If we made alcohol and tobacco vastly more expensive people would start stealing to support a habit and we could do that by prohibiting them. We do not because it would be a nightmare.

Q450 Michael Ellis: You have said it is because you consider that drugs are too expensive. You have argued about alcohol and prohibition. I suggest to you that the fact that alcohol is allegedly too inexpensive now has given a reason for campaigners on the other side to argue for alcohol to be made more expensive, so that is counter to your own argument.

Danny Kushlick: It is not a counter to it.

Q451 Michael Ellis: So if drugs were made dirt cheap, as you would like them to be, more offences would be committed, if alcohol is anything to go by.

Danny Kushlick: No, the point is to get the price right to a point where you reduce the crime but maintain a deterrent effect in terms of those people who misuse. So Transform and many other organisations who support legalisation and regulation, support minimum alcohol pricing. We would like to see-one of the things here is that tobacco is currently sold in sweet shops, which is wrong. It is sold without a licence, without an ingredients list. Alcohol is currently sold without a health warning and also sold in sweet shops and it is too cheap. We would like to see those prices increase but certainly not to a level where people are offending to support a habit.

Q452 Dr Huppert: I understand Mr Ellis’ concerns, although I think we come from slightly different perspectives. What is the evidence from all the other countries that have tried decriminalisation? Has it in fact led to an increase in crime or a decrease in crime because I think we do share an aim of reducing crime?

Niamh Eastwood: In terms of the impact on acquisitive crime, as I said, we were looking at prevalence rates. A lot of the countries have not analysed the impact on acquisitive crime, so, for example, probably the best researched area is Portugal. Portugal find that during a period of decriminalisation certain types of acquisitive crime went up and certain types of acquisitive crime went down. The type of crime that went up was crime that was less violent, so things like muggings, home burglaries, so there is an increase on business burglaries and that kind of thing.

In terms of decriminalisation I am not sure it impacts on acquisitive crime. I would not advocate that is necessarily the reason for introducing the policy. The reason for introducing the policy is because criminalisation does not achieve the effects that we want. It does not deter use and it does not impact on those who use problematically.

Q453 Alun Michael: You have both suggested that a Royal Commission should be established to look at this. A Royal Commission can be expensive and can take a lot of time. Why do you think it would be worth that investment?

Niamh Eastwood: We advocated for a Royal Commission because-I respect the Committee for taking on this difficult task and it is not an easy policy area, and in terms of one of the barriers to reform, the politicisation of the debate has been a major problem so that politicians-I am not suggestion the members of the Committee, but other politicians and certainly Governments-do not necessarily feel comfortable with addressing this issue, and I think we can see that when we have people like Bob Ainsworth who, after leaving office, came out and said, "There needs to be a review in this area. We should be prescribing medical heroin to people who use problematically." So a Royal Commission, we feel, would depoliticise it. I accept that it is expensive but when we spend £1.5 billion a year on law enforcement and the costs of the-

Q454 Alun Michael: It is also the fact that very often a Royal Commission comes out with a report, which then stays on the shelf because it does not deal with the political issues, with the views of the public, and the sort of counter-suggestions to the type of approach that you might think it might come out with; of course it might not.

Niamh Eastwood: Absolutely, but, as I said, we are led by the evidence so that is what we want to see. I agree with that point but I think, as I have said, this area is so difficult for Parliament. I mean this has not been looked at in 10 years, not since this Committee looked at it before. Having a debate on the Floor of the House around this area is almost impossible. Bob Ainsworth, when he talks about the timing that he got for it, I mean he was kind of put into the bleachers at 4 pm or something like that when nobody would be there. So I think there is a difficulty around this and that a Commission allows the evidence to be put forward. It may give politicians the cover they need to move forward, but I think the fact that we have change around public opinion is also something that we would hope would influence policy.

Danny Kushlick: There are a number of ways that we can approach this and a Royal Commission is something that Transform would also support. To be honest with you, we will take anything at this point because it is so taboo and it is so difficult. But a Joint Committee is another one. We could look at independent value-for-money studies.

What we use as a touchstone here is President Santos of Colombia’s call for a review at which he said all options need to go on the table and they are doing that through the Organization of American States. I think we need to look at anything we possibly can: value-for-money studies, scenario plans, cost-benefit analyses. We need them to be as independent as possible but definitely evidence-based and be led by the evidence.

Q455 Alun Michael: We met President Santos and of course he was not recommending a specific approach.

Danny Kushlick: We don’t need to.

Alun Michael: I am not quite clear now what you are suggesting; you are suggesting that, rather than a Royal Commission, a sort of series of studies be done, are you?

Danny Kushlick: The thing is, like I say, and I absolutely agree with Niamh, and we can all look at it-it has demonstrably been shown that this is so difficult to talk about historically by politicians and certainly senior ones. David Cameron sat in on the 2001-02 report, supported a debate and now has gone silent on it again.

Chair: He is not here today and you are the witness.

Danny Kushlick: No, but it demonstrates the difficulty as people move towards high office that it gets very difficult, so any opportunity to raise the debate to follow the evidence and look at all policy options will be welcomed.

Chair: We have other witnesses today so very quickly, Lorraine Fullbrook.

Q456 Lorraine Fullbrook: Thank you. I do not think you have answered my question about the illegal trade in prescription drugs in your list of drugs you would either decriminalise or regulate, and you have not included legal highs in your report or your findings, which change week by week and are as harmful if not more harmful than misuse of the usual drugs. What is your position on prescription and on legal highs?

Chair: These are very big areas. We are very happy to have a note from you on them. What I would like is 30-second answers because we have other witnesses.

Niamh Eastwood: Very briefly, we would consider the issue of legal highs as probably overstated in terms of use. If you look at the studies that say what are the most popular drugs it tends to be those that have been illicit for a long time. Methadrone has taken hold, there is no doubt about that. If we look at the classification of methadrone, methadrone use has gone up double since we controlled it and that is a common experience that we see. Ketamine in 2006-use has doubled again since that was controlled. Criminalisation does not work and it causes a huge amount of harm.

Chair: Mr Kushlick, again, 30 seconds please.

Danny Kushlick: With regard to the emergence of legal highs, that has been a product of prohibition. The diminution in the quality of both cocaine and ecstasy has led to people looking for new pills and powders that will produce similar effects. You end up chasing your tail. It is called substance displacement. To the extent that you win a war against one drug, another one will pop up to replace it. What we cannot use is the criminal justice system to defeat this.

Q457 Bridget Phillipson: Whatever the rights and wrongs of decriminalisation it does not deal with the underlying causes of why people might become problematic drug users. For example when heroin use was a particular issue in my community it was predominantly young people from troubled backgrounds who did not have a job and faced big challenges in their life. How would you respond to that?

Niamh Eastwood: I think that is absolutely right; it is a much more complicated area. Problematic drug use is a symptom of a much deeper issue. We see 1,700 clients every year at legal outreach programmes. Most of them have suffered trauma, whether it be abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and again criminalising them is not going to help the situation.

Danny Kushlick: I absolutely concur with what Niamh has just said, and in terms of looking at underlying issues, certainly the evidence that I have seen shows that there is a clear correlation between the level of welfare and the level of misuse. So if we are looking at underlying issues we need to look at things like that, about benefit provision, and about reducing the gap between rich and poor. Those are the kind of things that will fundamentally influence the conveyor belt that leads people into misuse.

Q458 Chair: Thank you. Thank you both. Obviously what you have had to say is of great interest to the Committee eliciting a number of very interesting questions and answers. There may be other issues that you want to bring before us; please do. We are holding a seminar on 10 September in the House, and we would very much like you to come along and participate as well. If there is more information to put before us please do write to us.

Danny Kushlick: Thank you.

Chair: Could we have Tim Hollis from ACPO and Tom Lloyd please?

Examination of Witnesses

Witnesses: Chief Constable Tim Hollis CBE QPM, Association of Chief Police Officers, and Tom Lloyd, former Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire, gave evidence.

Q459 Chair: Mr Hollis and Mr Lloyd, former Chief Constable, I do not need to tell you all to be succinct and brief in your answers and to the point because you have done this many times before. I start with you, Mr Hollis; you have now been the lead on ACPO for six years. It must have been a huge embarrassment for you when you heard that the Secretary of State for Justice, in effect the head of the legal system as far as the Government is concerned, has said that the war on drugs had failed since you have been the lead on ACPO, and very distinguished Chief Constables have given evidence in the past to this Committee and to other Committees in this House that things are getting better. They are not, are they?

Chief Constable Hollis: First, I never find it embarrassing when a person states an honest opinion, Chair. As a former professional soldier I am familiar with the concept "war on drugs". I find it an unhelpful expression for two reasons. Firstly, because I think it is the wrong approach to what is a deep-seated and complex social problem. If, as Kenneth Clarke suggests, and of course 20 years ago he was Home Secretary so he is knows the business, that the war has been lost then I think he probably is referring to successive Governments’ overarching drug strategy as to how successful that has been. Obviously I am here today to talk about one element of that, which is the enforcement element.

As a cop, two things. Firstly, I am into year 35 of my service. We have been dealing with burglary for 35 years; no one has told me we have lost the war on burglary. Secondly, a very personal view; the majority of people who experiment and use drugs are young people. I joined the police-

Chair: We will come on to that.

Chief Constable Hollis: It is relevant to the war on drugs concept, please. I came into police service to serve and protect the public. I did not come into the service to go to war with young people, so I challenge the concept.

Has policing solved the problem? No.

Q460 Chair: Let us concentrate on what you do know about in terms of policing. Drugs are still coming into this country. The use is only happening because drugs still come in. What is going wrong with the system that we have at the moment that drugs still pour into this country?

Chief Constable Hollis: One of the people following me, I understand, is Trevor Pearce from the Serious and Organised Crime Agency-

Chair: We will ask him his questions, I am asking you.

Chief Constable Hollis: I am explaining, my responsibility is domestic drug issues within the UK. I am not well sighted professionally to give you a detailed analysis on what is going on with the international-

Q461 Chair: Do you know what happens when they arrive in then, Mr Hollis?

Chief Constable Hollis: Yes, we do, in areas. I police a major port and we know full well that in Humberside, a lot of drugs coming through and other illicit material coming through our ports, so we endeavour jointly with other law enforcement agencies-SOCA, UK Border Agency-to try to reduce the flow, predominantly using intelligence-led policing. We focus our efforts and our priorities-we have to, our resources are scant and diminishing-on organised crime because that is the crucial issue. That is where the great harms are coming through.

Q462 Chair: In terms of seizures and in terms of prosecutions and drug dealers, do you have some figures to give to this Committee about the increase in the number of dealers we have taken to court and sent to jail?

Chief Constable Hollis: No, if you want figures and statistics I can obtain them. The Home Office have ample supply of statistics.

Q463 Chair: What does ACPO do in this respect then? What is the point of having a lead on drugs?

Chief Constable Hollis: ACPO itself is an association. It draws together all the agencies. I chair a meeting; we meet three times a year. It has no executive role so I cannot direct a police force or another agency to do something. It is good-will support. We have Home Office, UK Border Agency, Scotland and Northern Ireland sitting with us because Scotland and Northern Ireland have similar problems. It is to share good practice, identifying emerging problems. We did a critical bit of work over an 18-month period on understanding the commercial cannabis; the cannabis factories.

Q464 Chair: So you cannot tell this Committee anything about whether or not there have been more prosecutions. I mean you must have looked at the figures, you are appearing before the Home Affairs Select Committee talking about drugs.

Chief Constable Hollis: Correct.

Chair: You must have looked at the figures about prosecutions. You must know have they gone up, has the amount of seizures gone up, you must know something to tell us, apart from the fact that good practice is being disseminated throughout the land.

Chief Constable Hollis: ACPO drugs does not study the statistics in relation to drugs. They are dealt with at force level and by SOCA-

Q465 Chair: But as the ACPO lead you have not looked at them?

Chief Constable Hollis: It is not something routinely we study, as I explained.

Q466 Chair: Mr Lloyd, you are a former Chief Constable.

Tom Lloyd: Correct, yes.

Q467 Chair: And you publicly call for the decriminalisation of drugs. Is that all drugs?

Tom Lloyd: Yes.

Q468 Chair: Every single one of them?

Tom Lloyd: Yes.

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Q469 Chair: Why?

Tom Lloyd: If you take somebody who is indulging in youthful experimentation with a drug that other witnesses have said is less powerful, for example, or harmful than alcohol, it seems to me that they should be afforded the same sort of forgiveness and understanding that is afforded to Shadow and Cabinet Ministers in this and other Governments who have admitted to youthful experimentation. It seems hypocritical to saddle a young person with a criminal conviction that could blight their lives rather than some support or guidance and proper education.

Secondly, those who are suffering from the disease of addiction, many have experienced extreme trauma in their lives. It seems to me the last thing the police should be doing is arresting them. You have two consequences. They will get a conviction. The second consequence is it encourages risky behaviour in drug users. If you just scored your heroin for £20, which you may well have got by stealing, to feed your addiction then what you will do in fear of being arrested is go to the nearest place possible, whether it is a public lavatory, some inappropriate place, borrow a needle to get that drug into your system as much as possible. We encourage that. Those are two powerful reasons just based on humanity for not using the criminal law for drug users.

Q470 Chair: Putting humanity to one side, just for a moment.

Tom Lloyd: Chairman, I will keep it in mind, if I may.

Chair: And looking at the harmful effects of drugs, which will affect a person’s humanity, bringing it back into play, surely it is not humane to allow people to carry on taking drugs, which will have a harmful effect on them.

Tom Lloyd: We have a situation at the moment where, to put it crudely, the drug dealers all over the world are laughing at law enforcement. They love this situation because it elevates the price. That gives them the motivation to probably succeed in getting 80% plus of their products through border controls in whatever country you are talking about. So if even 20% gets caught, that is not a bad tax rate.

People are called drug pushers because they actively push drugs to people. If you are talking about people who are susceptible, shall I say, to drug use, we have a situation-

Q471 Chair: Mr Lloyd, I am not talking about drug use, I am talking about the harmful effects. It cannot be not harmful to take cocaine. I understand what you are saying about-

Tom Lloyd: Okay, Chairman, I understand. I will get to your point.

Chair: I am not talking about the drug dealers. I am talking about the effect it has on people taking drugs.

Tom Lloyd: It is much more harmful for those drugs to be produced and supplied by criminals who care only for profit and we have tragic examples of people injecting heroin, which has been contaminated, say, with anthrax even in recent history. So all drugs are more harmful than they would otherwise be.

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Q472 Chair: Because of the illegality?

Tom Lloyd: Because of the illegality. In essence, the point I want to get across is that there is a massive amount of work done by law enforcement, by health, by treatment, by a whole range of workers, all of which is pushing against this massive influence of the criminal drugs market, driven by profit, so we are very much on the back foot, if not being pushed back, as I think Ken Clarke said, and I must say on his point it is encouraging to hear a politician speak out openly and honestly about what he thinks about that.

Q473 Chair: I am glad you said that because my final point is about Mr Clarke’s statement about the war on drugs. You heard what Mr Hollis has said-he does not like the use of the term-whereas our previous witnesses acknowledged the term was used and felt that it had been lost. Do you think we have lost the war on drugs?

Tom Lloyd: Yes. We have been losing it; it is unwinnable. But we have President Richard Nixon to blame for this and his 1970-71 campaign where he coined the term "war on drugs" and that has sadly been used by drug warriors as a reason for increasing spend on law enforcement, not on health and support. It is not a war on drugs. Drugs are inanimate objects. They could not care less. You cannot have illegal drugs. What you have is prohibition towards people’s behaviour, which is more about society deciding on particular norms and outlawing them, such as, say, religious practice or homosexuality as opposed to something like burglary, which in a technical term is a malum in se, as opposed to a malum prohibitum.

Chair: That is very helpful. We have a number of questions. We have other witnesses. The context is very important but I would be grateful if you could answer the questions as succinctly as possible.

Q474 Mr Winnick: Mr Lloyd, you are a former Chief Constable, Mr Hollis is a former Assistant Chief Constable, both distinguished-

Tom Lloyd: He is the current Chief Constable.

Mr Winnick: You are both certainly senior and distinguished former police officers.

Chief Constable Hollis: Do you know something I don’t? I know John Prescott’s lighted on my Police and Crime Commission; it is a bit worrying.

Chair: You are still in your job.

Mr Winnick: Mr Lloyd, you have set out a list of things that you wish to see done. As the Chair said, among other things, declare an immediate amnesty by means of de facto criminalisation. How far do you believe the views that you have personally put forward, and I recognise they are your own views, are similar to other senior police officers, including Chief Constables and Assistant Chief Constables?

Tom Lloyd: It is very difficult to estimate but I do know that there are more people than you would think who would accord with my views. But I think it is fair to say, and Tim perhaps will have view on this, maybe I am being more optimistic for obvious reasons, but certainly I have come across a lot of people who think that. Interestingly enough I have come across a lot of senior politicians who privately think the same and increasingly in my work of advocating drug policy reform it is very encouraging, as are The Sun YouGov poll statistics, in saying there are a lot of people who think about this.

What I will say though is that I suspect almost every police officer you ask would say, "Well the system is not working very well. We arrest a dealer and another one turns up." Arresting users does not seem to deter them from their use. What we are doing maybe is not the right way of approaching things. That would be a minimum position taken by a large number of people. Perhaps fewer, but still a substantial number would go as far as me.

Chairman, I need to also just clarify my position. Decriminalisation I think is absolutely necessary for the reasons I have stated but also for the reasons that the criminals are in charge of the market; they are running a very successful business. We need to tackle that business. We can either do it by increasing the risk to the business, which is effectively arrest and prosecution-it has not worked-or we do it by reducing the profits and you reduce the profits by taking over the supply. So control and regulation are actually harmful.

Q475 Mr Winnick: I think it is generally recognised that certainly the drug dealers, particularly the barons, as the last witness stated, would like the status quo to remain, as we would if we were involved in the same terrible business. Mr Hollis, what Mr Lloyd said, is that your view as well?

Chief Constable Hollis: More up to date, with great respect, because Tom retired a wee while ago. I am also one of the vice-presidents of ACPO, so I do know the Chiefs very well.

I represent a very broad church. The former Chief Constable of North Wales, Richard Brunstrom, came out formally and wrote formally to the Home Secretary advocating decriminalisation. He does not represent the majority view, I have to say. Within that there are other colleagues who have a much more hard line, I know some of your witnesses have had quite a strong view. The police find themselves in a difficult position because they do absolutely get the point made by Mr Ellis. We see the damage done by drugs within our communities and of course we get both from future Police and Crime Commissioners potentially and our public about what they want us to do and another group saying they want us to do it differently. So we do occupy a rather different space, which is why I welcome a well-informed open debate on the evidence.

Q476 Lorraine Fullbrook: Could I ask Mr Lloyd the same question I asked the previous witnesses? Which drugs would you decriminalise?

Tom Lloyd: All of them

Lorraine Fullbrook: All of them?

Tom Lloyd: Yes.

Q477 Lorraine Fullbrook: Including-

Tom Lloyd: Heroin, cocaine.

Lorraine Fullbrook: -prescription drugs?

Tom Lloyd: I must say I am not very well informed on prescription drugs. Certainly what that shows is that some people are, as it were, evading controls that have been put in place and perhaps need to be firmed up in order to satisfy probably an addiction, and I think some of this comes around either from people who might possibly be using heroin or cocaine choosing to get supplies, as it were, illegally or circumventing the prescription route, or it is people who have fallen into addiction as a result of being prescribed the drugs in any case and maybe find that they are forced into that position in order to satisfy their addiction.

Q478 Lorraine Fullbrook: That is certainly not what the Home Affairs Select Committee found in the United States. It was that people who use the illegal trade and prescription drugs use only prescription drugs and a mixture of prescription drugs.

Tom Lloyd: That may well be the case. As I said, I am not particularly informed on that but what I would say is whatever we do let us not use the criminal law to prosecute people who clearly have a problem with addiction as is evidenced by the efforts they will go to in circumventing the rules about obtaining prescription drugs. That is my basic point on that. In other words, there is a consistency across my position.

As far as legal highs are concerned, I think we heard earlier, and I would agree with that, you do get this so-called balloon effect: if you are seeking to stamp out production of cocaine in Colombia, which has dropped slightly, you will see it go up in Peru to compensate for the market. Similarly with heroin and similarly with drugs themselves. You might have, I would not really call it success, but an impact on the supply of a particular drug. So for example, there may be drugs like ecstasy. I know I am not a medical opinion but people die because they do not regulate the water they take in from ecstasy. Ecstasy itself-

Chair: Sorry, could we speed up. Thank you very much.

Tom Lloyd: So on the point of those drugs, legal highs-

Chair: Speed up meaning conclude.

Tom Lloyd: Don’t criminalise them.

Q479 Lorraine Fullbrook: Can I ask you both, do you believe if drugs were decriminalised that you would see no new entrants to the market?

Tom Lloyd: I think you would see a shift in the use of drugs. At the moment, when you think about drug use you have to include alcohol, so we have a large number of people taking psychoactive substances, most of which is alcohol, some of which are heroin, cocaine and the like, that are under the criminal market. I think it would be odd not to see some sort of shift in the drugs that are used but, as the evidence that has already been put forward by a witness, it would not go up.

Chair: Mr Hollis, in 30 seconds please.

Chief Constable Hollis: Just to be clear I am not here to argue for decriminalisation, but I do feel outnumbered. I am here to articulate honestly and openly the pragmatic problems for the police service.

Q480 Lorraine Fullbrook: As a police officer if drugs were decriminalised would you think you would see new entrants to the market?

Chief Constable Hollis: Personally there would be, invariably so; unavoidably so.

Q481 Chair: Mr Lloyd, we would be astonished if the ACPO lead on drugs had come before the Home Affairs Select Committee to suggest decriminalisation.

Tom Lloyd: I do realise that, thank you.

Q482 Mark Reckless: Mr Hollis, what does ACPO perceive to be the purpose of the war on drugs?

Chief Constable Hollis: Again, I just register the term "war on drugs", which I find unhelpful. We are there to enforce the law and to protect our communities from harm. We understand fully, and Trevor Pearce will describe, the high-level threat from organised criminality to this country. A point well made I think is that regulation is not the solution because organised crime is into tobacco, prescription drugs and alcohol smuggling because there is money there. It will solve one set of problems; it does not resolve another one.

I witness within my police force area the harm that is done to my communities, both by organised criminality but also the tragedies. It was two young worthy lads in Scunthorpe who originally were thought to have died from suspected methadrone; interestingly, they died as a result of mephedrone, already an illegal drug, and alcohol. So we deal with, and my family liaison officers deal with, the families and victims of people who die from that. We are there to protect our communities. It is against the law. The Misuse of Drugs Act makes certain drugs illegal and that is our responsibility.

Where I think there are some interesting issues and some challenges for the service, for the Home Office, and for politicians is the new generation of legal highs being rapidly developed and promulgated through social networking. We are not designed-

Q483 Mark Reckless: That was my question. In terms of interception, does that interception activity, in your experience, increase the price of drugs?

Chief Constable Hollis: Anecdotally, yes, but it varies because it is replaced very quickly. A lot of our organised crime, in my force area-

Q484 Mark Reckless: What is the point of that, then?

Chief Constable Hollis: Exactly the point made by the decriminalisation lobby that if by arresting drug dealers they are within a few weeks replaced, why do it? We do it because there are some very specific harms hurting our communities. At the lower level, I make no apology for lower-level enforcement. If you are a single mum on an estate in Hull living next door to people who are selling drugs the quality of your life is absolutely appalling, and I make no apology for our neighbourhood officers working jointly with local authority and other agencies to tackle that particular problem. Will it move somewhere else? Of course it will. We are not stupid. We know it will move somewhere else because there is big money behind it, but if it relieves that particular problem that is a legitimate police enforcement activity to be done. That is part of the dynamic.

Where I am interested, and there is some good work being done, is about how can you reduce reoffending so the work of police jointly with other agencies to try to deal with damages done by drugs and addiction and the treatment issues is an integral part of trying to reduce the harms to our communities. It is not enforcement. It is better joint work across different agencies into the different areas of the drug strategy.

Q485 Mark Reckless: I have a question for Mr Lloyd. To the extent that interception is effective in raising prices, potentially perhaps at least in the short term, does that in your experience increase or decrease the value of drugs in the illegal market; that is, is the demand elastic or inelastic for drugs? By raising the price does volume fall by more than the increase in price, in your experience?

Tom Lloyd: My understanding of this is that it is pretty inelastic. If you are addicted you want your drug. If there is a temporary shortfall then you will go to other places to get some form of relief. What we are talking about here is what I mentioned at the start of my evidence which is that all of this is in the context of the fact that the criminals are laughing at us with this wonderful system we have created where they make so much profit and there is very little risk to them that they will create the sort of problems that you are quite properly talking about with that woman, as you said, on a council estate perhaps, or wherever, suffering these problems. But that is what prohibition creates. It creates an illegal dealing market.

Chair: You have said that.

Tom Lloyd: That is why I argue for the end of prohibition and the start of control and regulation so that you will not have dealers on the street.

Chair: Indeed. We are going to have some quick supplementaries from Dr Huppert and Mr Ellis. Mr Reckless, you are done?

Mark Reckless: Yes, thank you.

Q486 Dr Huppert: Thank you, Chair. Firstly, one of my previous witnesses Professor Nutt, whom you probably know of, in his opinion from a public safety perspective, police officers would rather be dealing with someone who is stoned rather than drunk. Do you think that is accurate? Do you think that somebody who has taken cannabis is going to cause less harm in the community than somebody who has taken alcohol?

Chief Constable Hollis: Depends to whom you speak. As a former street cop in London, if I had the choice between walking down the street at 11 o’clock at night and finding three lads who were tanked with extra strong lager or three on cannabis, back in the 1970s in the last century, then I would have opted for the latter. You talk to the parents, as I have, of someone who has had severe behavioural problems as a result of cannabis, then that is a very hard argument to sustain. There are elements of truth in what you describe, in terms of impact within my policing areas.

The other thing is poly-drug use. It is very rarely now, in our experience, just alcohol, just drugs. Young people are frequently mixing different drugs. As we heard, the two lads died tragically, methadone and alcohol. It is rarely binary, one or the other. It is a combination of the two.

Tom Lloyd: There is very little evidence that while you have the drug in your system that you are going to be a problematic individual. This refers back I think to Mr Ellis’ question to the other witnesses that there is some evidence that if you have a lot of cocaine in your system you might have a psychotic episode and be very difficult to deal with. By and large heroin users, cocaine users, ecstasy users, cannabis users are all relatively harmless in terms of what might be termed aggressive behaviour. The problem arises, of course, with alcohol which does produce a massive amount of aggression and so the answer to your question I think is yes, Mr Huppert.

Q487 Dr Huppert: Very briefly, both of you as experienced Chief Constables will be used to resource allocation problems. How much resource, from a policing perspective, is best spent at the local level dealing with possession, at the sort of higher level in your areas or even internationally? How would you change that allocation for resources to best control the harms.

Chief Constable Hollis: Speaking in Humberside, firstly the joint work with other agencies is absolutely critical. Frankly, simple enforcement-putting a person with cannabis or drug before the magistrates-is not the long-term solution.

Q488 Dr Huppert: Would you transfer more powers to SOCA, though?

Chief Constable Hollis: Not to SOCA because SOCA does not deliver locally. SOCA is dealing with national and international matters.

Q489 Bridget Phillipson: We have had evidence on the education provided to young people in schools around drugs and alcohol and that young people frequently now no longer believe the evidence that they are receiving; it has to be balanced. We should give young people information-not necessarily scaremongering, but providing the information for young people to be fully informed. What do you think about the education that is provided to young people on drugs education? Do they routinely think that adults, teachers, the police or whoever are simply not being accurate about the risks associated with drug use?

Chief Constable Hollis: Tom will have his own view. From my perspective I have a real concern, as do my colleagues across the service and whom I do represent on drugs, about the impact of all the changes currently taking place. We are happy with our young children’s team who link in to look at the education prevention which is a crucial part of the strategy. I understand that PSHE is due to be reviewed, which will be integral to the drug element to that and that review keeps being delayed. From our perspective, the education information to young people-the counter-balance to what they can get on social networking-is crucial. Our concern is clearly where that is being progressed. The other end is the potential impact on the treatment and prevention side; National Treatment Agency going, money from drugs going down from drug intervention programmes-

Tom Lloyd: Can I just answer?

Chair: Yes, Mr Lloyd.

Tom Lloyd: Thank you, Chairman. I do not think the police should be involved in drugs education. It should not be a criminal issue. It should be a health and social issue. The evidence from the United States on a programme around DARE, which is drug abuse resistance education, is that it does not work and can even be counter-productive. It is pretty much like a lot of the education which we give youngsters which is a variation of Nancy Reagan’s "Just say no" which does not work. When we had people like Gordon Brown a few years ago calling skunk "lethal" which it simply is not, then we had a real problem engaging with young people. This is very serious. They need to be treated in a way which does not focus narrowly on drugs. There is some evidence that something called Lifetime Skills training, which involves a range of issues about growing up into being a responsible human being, you have introduced drugs as a part of that process so they feel good about themselves in many ways and that, the early studies are showing, seems to have some impact. You need to do things differently without police.

Q490 Bridget Phillipson: Alcohol education? If you want to provide education to young people?

Tom Lloyd: It will be all part of it. Not with a criminal threat, because the evidence shows it is fewer than 20% of kids who were asked about why they do not take drugs say it is because they might get caught by the police. It is a relatively small number. They thought, "I do not want to take drugs. I want to be healthy." We have got some opportunities here to tap into that but what we must not fall into the trap of is saying it is the criminalisation of drugs that deters youth. That is a myth. The Government will say, "We are firmly of the opinion that criminalising and putting things into a higher classification A, B, or C has this deterrent impact." It may be a firm opinion, but the evidence says otherwise.

Q491 Bridget Phillipson: Of course alcohol will be the first or potentially the only drug that young people may be exposed to?

Tom Lloyd: When you have a system that we have at the moment with drug pushers, sadly you will get cannabis and other drugs being pushed to youngsters, because that is in the nature of the market. That, as I said, is why I go beyond decriminalisation, which is a necessary step, to the idea that if we do not have a situation where the profits are so great that people will become criminals under current law and push drugs, then drug availability will go down in my view. I appreciate that is why we need a review to explore this. In the decriminalised countries, remember, you still have the pushers, so it is not like a fair playing field. If you take away the pushing and you have mature, as it were, adult education of the children, if you see what I mean, and you attend to some of the underlying social issues which is a far bigger indicator in fact of drug abuse, this is shown. In fact the US is incredibly enforcement focused, and yet it has a very, very high incidence of drug abuse. You can go to other countries where they are much more relaxed and it is very different. It is a myth, Chairman, that I think needs to be dispelled.

Chair: Very, very grateful that you have dispersed that myth. Michael Ellis?

Q492 Michael Ellis: Is it not rather like living in a cloud cuckoo land, Mr Lloyd, to make a comparison with alcohol in the way that I think you seem to be seeking to do, and others before you? Because what I perceive that you would like to happen is to reduce what are now illegally controlled drugs to the level of alcohol. If I am right in that and that is what you would like to see happen, we have a situation today where alcohol is not illegal and it is still responsible, I am sure you would agree, for huge criminal justice problems; a huge impact on the public purse, both in law and order and in the national health service. Would we not simply be creating a two-tier disaster? Rather than lower the price of controlled drugs to exacerbate an already dangerous situation as far as alcohol is concerned, this is the effect of what would happen under your idea.

Tom Lloyd: No, and you mis-state my position which echoes what Danny Kushlick was saying: alcohol is not probably sufficiently regulated at the moment and its price has gone down relative to people’s ability to pay over a very long time and so I think we need more regulation of alcohol. The difference, and there is a difference between alcohol and many of the other drugs, which I have already explained, is that they are psychoactive in the sense that they tend to depress and calm.

Michael Ellis: Mr Lloyd, forgive me-

Tom Lloyd: No, this is very important because alcohol-

Michael Ellis: It is not really-

Tom Lloyd: It is. Alcohol is the thing that causes the problems and that alcohol needs more regulation because it does lead to violence and it does lead to problems.

Chair: Thank you, that is very helpful.

Q493 Michael Ellis: You have said that you would increase the regulations around alcohol but my point to you was that you would decrease the regulations that surround drugs.

Tom Lloyd: There is no control of drugs at the moment. We do not have control of the drugs market. The criminals do. I am seeking to gain control of that, so that the quality, the purity, so that the dangers inherent in taking the drugs as currently supplied are reduced, the criminality and the stigma are reduced, and treatment opportunities are increased; that is where the money goes.

Chair: You have made that clear. Mr Ellis.

Q494 Michael Ellis: We have, arguably by the same calculation, lost the war, and I do not like the term "war on drugs" because I think that is an absurd misnomer, but burglaries have being going on for decades and centuries, other crimes have been going on for as long. We do not hear anybody saying that we should decriminalise burglary because we have lost the war on burglary. You are taking a defeatist attitude, are you not, to a serious problem?

Tom Lloyd: No, I am simply seeking to reduce the pain caused by banging one’s head against a brick wall which is our approach to prohibition. What we have, and I have said it before, in-

Chair: We do not want a long explanation.

Tom Lloyd: I understand. I am sorry. I am probably more used to chairing meetings. I do apologise.

Chair: I have to tell you, Mr Lloyd, if you chaired meetings like that they would last a very long time. Mr Lloyd, order. We would like a brief answer. This is a serious session.

Tom Lloyd: I understand.

Chair: I would be grateful for a brief answer and not a repetition of what you have said before.

Tom Lloyd: You will get one.

There is a difference between laws passed to protect people’s property and their person from assault and crime, malum in se, and the types of law that are passed to govern societal norms such as, for example, homosexuality and religion. That was repealed in the same way that we need to do in this legislation.

Chair: I do not think that we need to go down the homosexuality route.

Tom Lloyd: There is a difference between the two.

Chair: Mr Ellis, final question.

Q495 Michael Ellis: Can I just point out, I do not agree with your analysis on that? What society sees as a norm varies over time and I do not agree with you that burglary is different in that respect. That is the first point. The second point is that the opinion poll that has been regularly quoted from The Sun newspaper, I understand indicated the same poll, 78% said that possession of killer drugs should still be a crime. I would like your views on that.

Tom Lloyd: I think that the population at large is relatively ill-educated and has been misled by a lot of the media coverage of the so-called war on drugs. If we have a review, as has been suggested and I would urge, I think that a lot of very important information about the reality of the situation would become available and I think opinions would change quite substantially.

Q496 Alun Michael: One supplementary to Mr Lloyd, I am very clear about your critique of the criminal approach to drugs, but I am not clear whether you want an immediate decriminalisation when by your own words your alternative is regulation. In terms of how regulation should operate you say that we should conduct a comprehensive inquiry to UK drug policy to consider implementing proper control and regulation of drugs by the Government. That is a very long-term option, is it not? Were you talking about immediate decriminalisation? What time scale for introducing regulation? What happens in between?

Tom Lloyd: I think we should go for decriminalisation straight away

Alun Michael: Without having done the work that you yourself say is necessary to identify a system of regulation?

Tom Lloyd: Control and regulation is different from decriminalisation. Decriminalisation is focused on the users and I just think there is overwhelming evidence that using the criminal law against users is problematic and damaging.

Q497 Alun Michael: Sorry, please; I am asking a very specific question. We have already identified the fact that there are problems with those that are legal, including alcohol. If you immediately decriminalise there is a vacuum before you can have what you describe as a long-term project of introducing regulation. Are you saying that we should simply trust to luck in the meantime?

Tom Lloyd: It is not a vacuum. You heard from Niamh Eastwood; there are at least 20 countries she had looked at that had some form of decriminalisation without the great fear of increased drug use. I am saying that, I think we should try-

Q498 Alun Michael: You are saying that even though it would be impossible to introduce a system of regulation immediately, we should decriminalise immediately?

Tom Lloyd: Because they are separate issues, as other witnesses have said.

Q499 Alun Michael: Okay. As far as the ACPO position is concerned, there has been a highlighting of the growth in commercial cannabis farms. I have certainly seen evidence of that at a local level as well. You say they are not a high priority for most police forces who concentrate on class-A drugs?

Chief Constable Hollis: Correction, I did not say that. That is some work my committee undertook because there was a gap. The individuals-

Q500 Alun Michael: Are you saying the committee is wrong then?

Chief Constable Hollis: No, no we got it right. We spotted there was a gap across the 43 forces of England and Wales. We linked in to international forces as well on commercial cannabis. We did a lot of risk analysis about what is happening out there now and we gained a much greater understanding as a result, of the scale of the problem, and it is linked into organised crime and we do prioritise organised crime.

Q501 Alun Michael: Yes, but in terms of the identification of the growth in commercial cannabis farms, certainly there seem to be more of them. Certainly we see more of them being closed down, so there is a lot of activity both by those who are undertaking them and by the police. Can you just tell us where that is getting us?

Chief Constable Hollis: Working closely with SOCA to identify who is involved in it, there was evidence of Vietnamese people in there, which is international organised crime and Trevor Pearce may have a view. There is increasing indication that it is local serious organised criminals. It is resolving the immediate problem locally. I accept someone will then open it up somewhere else, but that is not a reason for not tackling the local problem.

Q502 Alun Michael: Is this something that ought to be more of a priority for SOCA or for the National Crime Agency?

Chief Constable Hollis: It is a joint one. SOCA have the national and international; we have the UK.

Alun Michael: I understand that.

Chief Constable Hollis: We work jointly with SOCA as an enterprise because we both have an interest in trying to tackle those problems.

Q503 Alun Michael: Sorry, I am trying to get it clear who ought to be doing what. Should local forces be doing more across England and Wales, are you saying? Should SOCA be taking a greater interest?

Chief Constable Hollis: SOCA have an interest, they deal with the international element of it. The local forces working collectively and collaboratively with our support are tackling the problem within their force areas.

Q504 Alun Michael: But you are implying, as I understand it, that there is a gap that not enough is being done. Who is it that is not doing enough?

Chief Constable Hollis: There is always more to be done, simple as that. We have spotted a gap, we are putting-

Q505 Chair: We know that. Mr Michael is asking you a specific question as the ACPO lead. Who should do more? Not everyone should do more. Who?

Chief Constable Hollis: We will never be able to tackle it in its entirety, we have to prioritise. That would be done by individual Chief Constables assisted by their Police and Crime Commissioners in November. What emphasis they put on what priorities will be very interesting. We know not at this moment in time.

Alun Michael: I look forward to considering the suggestions.

Chief Constable Hollis: I am sure you do.

Chair: You have given the responsibility to Mr Michael, clearly?

Chief Constable Hollis: And the Chief Constable of South Wales.

Chair: Indeed.

Chief Constable Hollis: Thank you.

Q506 Chair: Mr Lloyd, Mr Hollis, thank you very much for giving evidence.

Chief Constable Hollis: Chair, can I just say one thing I have been expecting, very quick, because you asked me about whether we were succeeding or failing. I did expect to be asked about my views about the overarching strategy.

Chair Maybe what you could do is write to us about your views. That would be very helpful. Thank you very much, Mr Hollis. Could I call Mr Pearce from SOCA?

Examination of Witness

Witness: Trevor Pearce, Director General of the Serious Organised Crime Agency, gave evidence.

Trevor Pearce: There is obviously a vast amount of interest. People seem to be leaving as I arrive.

Q507 Chair: Do not take it personally. We are still here, that is very important. Can I start, Mr Pearce? Thank you for giving evidence to us again.

I ask you whether you agree with the Lord Chancellor that the war on drugs has been lost?

Trevor Pearce: Subject to the discussions we already had about the nature of the phrase, which I think is pejorative, and also to a comment, and you would have seen this in South America, that there are law enforcement officers and officials who on a daily basis are facing the threat of-

Chair: Yes. We know all that. If you would just answer the question. We know all that and we are coming to all this and we are very grateful for that. But the question is do you agree with the Lord Chancellor that the war on drugs has been lost. We know about all the good work and we are coming on to that.

Trevor Pearce: No, I do not, sir. I think it is a constant battle and we have to fight that, if we use that metaphor, but I do not think we have lost.

Q508 Chair: Excellent. In terms of seizures by SOCA, 12% of the heroin market was seized and 9% of the market share was seized before SOCA took office, so to speak. Has it improved?

Trevor Pearce: Yes it has and working on a basis in 2010 we were also able to look at what we thought the UK consumption was using a new methodology which I am happy to share with the Committee but it is somewhat detailed for a presentation like this. We would suggest that probably in the region of 30% of the cocaine market and somewhere in the region of 10% to 13% of the heroin market are being covered by our interdictions and seizures.

Q509 Chair: Interdictions meaning what?

Trevor Pearce: Seizure of the commodity.

Q510 Chair: Right, so 30% of the cocaine market is being seized by SOCA?

Trevor Pearce: That is right, yes.

Q511 Chair: Before it comes to the country or after it has arrived?

Trevor Pearce: In principle, probably about 95% before it comes to the country.

Q512 Chair: One particular issue, and Mrs Fullbrook is going to talk to you about our visit Colombia and ask specific questions in a moment, can I ask about the amount of money that is being laundered? One of the issues that was raised with us in Colombia is that the actual profits that are held by Colombians in Colombia are miniscule compared with the amount of money that ends up in the European Union laundered through the banks. Is that your understanding as well? Are those statistics correct?

Trevor Pearce: I would have to go into those in detail. Certainly we have just worked with the Colombians and together we have been able to, I think, restrain about £165 million in assets in Colombia recently. The issue, I think, which the Colombians are concerned about is that it brings them to their shared responsibility agenda; of course, they are in many ways victims.

Q513 Chair: I know all that, but I am talking about the percentage of money that is laundered through our banks. Do you recognise these figures?

Trevor Pearce: I do not recognise those figures but I am happy to go away and do some research and come back to you, yes.

Q514 Chair: Would you look at them? Because we were concerned that-we understood that the profits of the cocaine trade, a very small amount was being kept in Colombia, the vast majority ending up in the European Union and being laundered in the European Union.

Trevor Pearce: I think the profit is spread across the supply chain, where and how the laundering takes place is probably slightly more detailed. We are happy to do a piece of research and give that to you.

Chair: We do not need research, we have done the research. We will write to you and ask for your validation.

Q515 Lorraine Fullbrook: Thank you, Chairman. When the committee were in the United States and Colombia, particularly Colombia, we were looking at the drug routes out of Colombia into the European Union and the UK and cocaine particularly from Colombia, and indeed Peru and Bolivia, went out to West Africa into Portugal, because it is a decriminalised country, and then across the European Union and into the UK. In your evidence you make reference to capacity building in West Africa, where several of the countries you have acknowledged to be in danger of becoming narco-states. How effective is your work in these countries? What are you doing about this? What are your biggest challenges now?

Trevor Pearce: I think the biggest challenge in working in some of those states where there is a notion of a failing state and a level of the corruption is how do you engage with law enforcement. That is the fundamental challenge and one we face with the different communities as well. In terms of how we are dealing with this operationally, we in Ghana and the French in Senegal have liaison units where we bring together the European, American and Canadian liaison officers and the intelligence that they have to understand the problem and to enable activity and operational activity to take place.

The capacity building is about how we can bring the experience we have from working with other jurisdictions, but also in terms of our approach to those countries, recognising that their resource levels are woefully small in this. Being able to surge activity from the UK to support them, we have done that in Sierra Leone, following a 600 kg seizure of cocaine; we have done it in The Gambia where we were able to identify the facility where another 2.1 tonnes of cocaine were being stored. Through that, through taking our forensic experts and taking investigators, we were able to build the experience and importantly build experience in how they operate in the criminal justice system.

Q516 Lorraine Fullbrook: I have to say, when we were in Colombia SOCA were doing a fantastic job within the country and also in Turkey when we were looking at the jobs coming in from Afghanistan, Iran, China and so on and they were doing a fantastic job in the drug seizures there. Do you hope when SOCA comes into the National Crime Agency that will continue?

Trevor Pearce: I think it must continue, I think the National Crime Agency will have a broader remit so the international footprint needs to be extended and make sure it has coverage. I think we have taken the lead, the UK, in how we operate in third-party countries and with them and help them develop their regional approaches. Everything I see in terms of the National Security Strategy, the Organised Crime Strategy and the Drug Strategy, and indeed the NCA plan, encourages us to continue the international working.

Q517 Alun Michael: We saw some of the impact of the way the drugs have been tackled at source in Colombia and although the balloon effect has been referred to earlier, we, I think, saw the impact of being able to take some of the criminal activity out of a state in restoring administration and justice.

From your perspective, what do you think would make the greatest impact in trying to deal with this extremely problematic trade and the trade routes? Because the Colombians, very reasonably, said to us, I think the President specifically, if there was not a high price for drugs in the UK there would not be the growth in the market. What do you think we could do that could make a difference?

Trevor Pearce: I think the whole of our drug control policy has to recognise that there is an enforcement element, there is prevention, and there are education and treatment elements. I think absolutely we need to build on the models that we have developed with Colombia and we see Colombia take that into the regional approach and that bears down on one commodity and particularly the balloon effect, which you have described.

I am very taken with the Colombian position about shared responsibility and there is a need for us to get forward the messaging in the UK that the impact of the use of cocaine has a significant impact on not the streets of Colombia, but within the rainforest, within the indigenous communities. In fact, interestingly the Colombian national police would say that they lose more rainforest to drug production and cultivation than they do to deforestation through farming. You can see why President Santos is so engaged because his country is, I think, the victim in this. I think we have to play our part of the shared responsibility agenda into the game.

Q518 Mr Winnick: The organisations, Mr Pearce, which are involved in combating drugs being smuggled in the UK, there is obviously yours of which you are the director general, the military, the border force and so on. Is there sufficient co-ordination in your view or should it be one organisation in effect?

Trevor Pearce: I think one organisation is quite difficult to conceive of. I think the point about co-ordination is absolutely right. Through the Threat Reduction Board we chair through SOCA, a Threat Reduction Board for international drugs which has been set up under the Organised Crime Strategy, it does enable us to bring together the appropriate leads from key agencies to make sure we have a single understanding of the threat and how we can each individually bring our expertise to bear on the problem. For example, we will ensure that the Border Force can take their experts to Colombia, as an example, or other countries, to assist in the training of officers around profiling containers, because that is a big threat. Bringing together all of the expertise if we do it effectively I think gives us a good opportunity for success.

Q519 Mr Winnick: Touching on what the Chair asked you in the beginning, it is not your view that this is a sort of unwinnable war, that one way or another it will be resolved in the end.

Trevor Pearce: I think we have to approach it from a number of different directions. It would be very sad for me as a law enforcement officer for some 37 years if we walked away from the challenge. I think that is our responsibility to our public.

Q520 Dr Huppert: Firstly looking at the comments from other members of the Committee on how well SOCA is received around the rest of the world. It was very striking I think, both in the US and when we were in Colombia, just how positive people were about the role that SOCA plays on frankly very small staff. I think many of us think that we hope that the SOCA brands can continue with a change into the NCA and I think we have come up with various ways of coming up with phrases like the Serious Overseas Crime Arm that might allow something to continue being called SOCA in the new world. SOCA clearly does a very impressive job in terms of interdiction. As long as that is an aim, it does it very well and it does far more with much fewer people than happens domestically with much more effort and many more people. Do you think that SOCA could benefit from a transfer of resources so that domestic police were freed up from spending their time to ineffectually do some of these interdictions and allowing you more resource to do it overseas?

Trevor Pearce: Certainly we spend about 8% of our budget on our overseas activity for which we lever up I think a great deal of resource from other law enforcement agencies. The challenge is, I think, this is about the nature of the end-to-end, the source, the street, which is you should still seek to attack some kind of UK action against what you are doing back in the source, in those countries. There will always need to be the ability to carry out criminal justice investigations and in terms of its development investigations against those who are seeking to import and then distribute. Getting the balance, I think, is a fine and tricky one. We review our overseas posts every year to see where we need to be best placed and whether we are getting most effect out of them. I think it is like everything, we would always like to do more. It may be an opportunity of the NCA when we review the footprint against the broader set of requirements that we can do that but I think as long as we have got the ability to co-ordinate the activity and to make sure that if there is an opportunity to do something on the streets of Hull, while at the same time dealing with the origin in Cartagena, then that is our responsibility across the whole of the supply chain.

Q521 Dr Huppert: SOCA have said-I do not know if it was you yourself-that one of the main problems of capturing key players in the drugs trade is that those based in the UK are simply easily replaced. It is much more effective to do that in the source countries. Does the same question apply then? You are saying that domestically we should be targeting those who are importing and trafficking within the UK, so the high-level dealers. How much resource should be on that versus targeting key players overseas?

Trevor Pearce: I think it is the balance. I suppose the concept of the multiplier effect is that one well placed liaison officer can mobilise that country’s resources to carry out a criminal justice investigation because that is their jurisdiction; we cannot go in and carry out the investigation for them, unless asked for some kind of support. It is getting the balance about what we can lever up from a very small resource to have the best effect for the UK, as well as the host country.

Q522 Dr Huppert: The resources spent picking up cannabis users on a street or heroin users, how does that fit in to your global picture?

Trevor Pearce: In terms of the end-to-end and the police service taking that responsibility clearly anyone who is arrested provides an intelligence source to understand what the greater drug picture is and therefore from that you can aggregate who is the pusher, who is the supplier, who is the distributer. It seems a bit simple. On occasions you can get to key importers through that. To understand the whole of the problem is important. That way we can decide where do we best put the resource? Where do we best focus?

Q523 Dr Huppert: The value is the intelligence that you gather from those arrests rather than-

Trevor Pearce: Yes.

Dr Huppert: Okay; thank you.

Q524 Mark Reckless: The SOCA website states that organised criminals involved in the supply of cannabis perceive it, and I quote, "To be a high profit, low risk activity which allows them to fund further criminal activity". What impact would decriminalisation have on that?

Trevor Pearce: I think there will always be organised criminals who will trade in cannabis whether we have a legitimate market or illegitimate market. The whole notion of tobacco which is completely licit, we see counterfeit tobacco, we see tobacco which is imported or brought in without tax so there will always be a two-tier market. There will always be, I think, the rationale for organised crime to see this as an opportunity particularly if the risk is diminished slightly. What we also know is that organised criminals use cannabis loads to either conceal multi-drug loads, or to even test out conduits or routes into the UK. Would I think they would ever walk away from trading in cannabis if it was legal? They would not.

Q525 Mark Reckless: Whatever its price or tax?

Trevor Pearce: Whatever price, yes. Absolutely, because-

Q526 Mark Reckless: Even if it was taxed at a very low level?

Trevor Pearce: Even if it was. It could be taxed at a very low level. You have revenue tax at the moment. But of course no-one has yet today put forward the point of who is going to provide these drugs? I take it the state is not. Do you therefore get the capitalisation through the drug companies of this commodity? If you do, where does the pricing go to? Pricing can be undercut by illegal activity; therefore the market continues.

Q527 Mark Reckless: Mr Pearce, I take it you are opposed to decriminalisation?

Trevor Pearce: Yes.

Q528 Lorraine Fullbrook: About cigarettes, I do not believe our previous witnesses have taken into account the regulations that are currently in place for cigarettes and of course the price has gone up and as you say there is an illegal trade in cigarettes. What will the situation be when the price of cigarettes goes up higher? Will we be in the same situation as say cannabis?

Trevor Pearce: It is very true. You are-

Lorraine Fullbrook: I am a nicotine addict, by the way.

Trevor Pearce: Okay. All I would say is that, and maybe your Clerks can find it, but an interesting piece of work was done by the tobacco industry back in the early part of this century whereby they picked up tobacco packets abandoned at football matches to see which were duty paid and which were not duty paid and I think the figure was somewhere close to 40% not duty paid. It just illustrates for me if you have a legal market people will seek to undercut the legal market.

Q529 Mark Reckless: Yes, but does that not depend on the level of taxation?

Trevor Pearce: Of course it does. There are some figures in this, but none the less the principle that organised crime will look for opportunities wherever still remains and we should tackle this as well as an organised crime problem.

Q530 Mark Reckless: Would your organisation be able to provide us of estimates as to the elasticity of demand for various illicit drugs?

Trevor Pearce: We will have a go at that but the UNODC report of only last month is very good on this and we will perhaps identify some appropriate parts in that which may be relevant for the Committee to see.

Q531 Chair: The worry of the Committee is that the good work that is being done internationally by SOCA might be affected by the new landscape. How many employees do you have left with SOCA? How many have left in the last year?

Trevor Pearce: We probably have just about 150; 180 left in the last year and we have been recruiting to 250 to keep us to what our intended number is through the CSR period.

Q532 Chair: None have joined the National Crime Agency because they are not in existence yet.

Trevor Pearce: No. No the NCA is not. We have brought elements of the National Police Improvement Agency into SOCA for transition into the NCA. My expectation is- it is there in the draft legislation-that all SOCA officers have the right of transfer into the NCA. What my staff are telling me is that they intend to come in, they look forward to the opportunities and want to carry on the excellent work that they are delivering.

Q533 Chair: But the Public Accounts Committee has uncovered a lot of redundancy payments to SOCA officers. What is the total amount of money that has now been paid to those who have taken redundancy?

Trevor Pearce: For those who took voluntary early severance it is just short of £7 million over two processes I think, which was about 90 staff all together.

Q534 Chair: £7 million for 90 staff?

Trevor Pearce: Yes.

Q535 Chair: Have any been re-engaged by the new organisation?

Trevor Pearce: No.

Q536 Chair: Is it a condition that once they take redundancy payments they will not be re-engaged?

Trevor Pearce: I will need to check that fact but I believe it is so, sir, yes.

Q537 Chair: Thank you. Mr Pearce, we might write to you with further information. You promised us further facts. If you would send them to us, that would be great.

Trevor Pearce: Will do, thank you.

Chair: Thank you very much.

Prepared 8th December 2012