25 Nov Complaint Against Detective Chief Inspector Steve Dowson, Lancashire Police
—– Original Message —–
From: Peter Reynolds
To: [email protected]
Sent: Monday, November 25, 2013 9:02 PM
Subject: Complaint against Det. Chief Insp. Steve Dowson
I wish to make a complaint against Detective Chief Inspector Steve Dowson of Preston police.
My complaint concerns a statement made by Dowson and published in the press which amounts to politicking and misleading the public. His conduct is in breach of police regulations.
I make the complaint on my own account but also in my capacity as the leader of CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform, a UK political party, of The Greenhouse, 42-46, Bethel Street, Norwich, NR2 1NR. For the purposes of correspondence, please contact me via email.
I am a victim of misconduct by Dowson which has caused me distress at his misuse of his office to promote myth, prejudice and propaganda about cannabis and hatred of cannabis users as a social group. I am also acting on behalf of more than 25,000 registered supporters of CLEAR who are victims of Dowson’s misconduct for the same reasons, particularly those who need cannabis as medicine for the treatment of conditions such as MS, Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia, spinal injury, epilepsy and chronic pain.
Dowson is reported in the Lancashire Evening Post as saying:
“Cannabis is not a harmless drug.
The health implications are very serious because it is so addictive.
People addicted to it are just as likely to commit crime to fund their habit than those on other drugs.”
These are false, inaccurate and misleading statements which attempt to deceive the public that Dowson is an expert in the subject and that the public can rely on the accuracy and veracity of what he says. They seek to support the failed government policy of prohibition of cannabis and demonstrate quite clearly that Dowson is engaging in politics from which police officers are prohibited under schedule 1 of the Police Regulations 2003. In making these statements, Dowson has acted dishonestly, without integrity, fairness and impartiality. He has abused his authority by making statements which, as a senior police officer, he knows that the public are likely to believe without question. He has also acted in a way that discredits the police service and will undermine public confidence.
1. “The health implications are very serious because it is so addictive.”
The health implications of cannabis are not ‘very serious’. There is no evidence to support this.
I refer to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs’ (ACMD) report of 2006 which states at 3.1.1. that the effects of cannabis are “not constituting a significant risk to healthy young people” and at 6.4. that “…the use of cannabis makes (at worst) only a small contribution to an individual’s risk for developing schizophrenia”. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-advisory-council-s-report-further-consideration-of-the-classification-of-cannabis-under-the-misuse-of-drugs-act-1971-2005
There is evidence to support that a tiny minority of users may face an increased risk of developing mental health problems but the extent of the risk has been compared to that of being struck by lightning (Professor David Nutt, Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, 24th October 2013). According to Hickman et al 2009, a review of all published research so, by definition, not cherry picked, the lifetime risk is between 0.013% and 0.003%. Furthermore, all the scientific and medical experts are agreed that no causal link can be shown between cannabis use and mental health problems.
There are no other significant negative health implications of cannabis. Even heavy and prolonged use is not associated with respiratory problems in the same way as cigarette smoking (Pletcher et al 2012) and cannabis has been shown to protect against the carcinogenic effects of tobacco when the two are mixed together (Tashkin et al 2006)
Furthermore, scientists and doctors now recognise that cannabis offers very substantial health benefits. As well as being a very effective medicine for a wide range of conditions, it acts as supplement to the body’s endocannabinoid system and helps to protect against autoimmune conditions such as diabetes and cancer (Werner 2011). Cannabis is also proven to be neuroprotective and can be used as post-stroke therapy and to protect against conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. (US patent no. 6630507)
Cannabis is not ‘so addictive’. The prevalence of dependency (about 9% of all users) and intensity of withdrawal symptoms are less than coffee (Hall et al 2001, Coffey et al 2002, Copeland et al 2004). I also refer to the Henningfield and Benowitz ratings of addictiveness, both of which show cannabis as less addictive than nicotine, heroin, cocaine, alcohol and caffeine: http://www.tfy.drugsense.org/tfy/addictvn.htm
2. “People addicted to it are just as likely to commit crime to fund their habit than those on other drugs.”
There is no evidence to support this. It is a ridiculous and incredible assertion. Cannabis does not produce withdrawal symptoms of sufficient intensity to motivate anyone towards crime. There is no evidence that people are stealing to pay for cannabis.There is no evidence to suggest that cannabis is a cause of acquisitive crime any more than any other commodity for which there is a huge public demand. In contrast, there is of course a great deal of evidence to show that people do steal in order to pay for alcohol, heroin, cocaine and other addictive and dangerous drugs.
In its most recent report on cannabis, the government’s appointed team of experts, the ACMD, stated:
“The evidence available to the Council does not suggest that cannabis use is a substantial cause of acquisitive crime (Section 9.3)”. Cannabis: Classification and Public Health, 12.13, ACMD 2008
No further evidence has been published since on this subject which could cause any reasonable person to take a different view. In fact, acquisitive crime has decreased and so has cannabis use.
I accept that Dowson has a duty to uphold the law as it presently stands. However, he is neither a doctor nor a scientist and he demonstrates either great ignorance or deliberate deceit about the ‘health implications’ of cannabis. It is entirely improper for him to engage in politicking, scaremongering, the promotion of myth, prejudice and propaganda. The public are likely to be alarmed by his words which are clearly intended to cause fear, consternation and hatred of cannabis users as a social group. He is in breach of schedule 1 of the Police Regulations 2003 which states:
“A member of a police force shall at all times abstain from any activity which is likely to interfere with the impartial discharge of his duties or which is likely to give rise to the impression amongst members of the public that it may so interfere; and in particular a member of a police force shall not take any active part in politics.”
I would be grateful if you would deal with this complaint at your earliest convenience. I shall be happy to provide any further information required or to give oral evidence in support.