03 Feb Justice Minister Reveals UK Is Trialling Portuguese Approach To Drugs.

Justice minister, Andrew Selous MPThe Justice Minister, Andrew Selous MP

In the secretive way that now seems to be standard practice for the UK government, the justice minister, Andrew Selous MP, revealed yesterday, in an answer to a written Parliamentary Question, that he is “currently trialling ‘Liaison and Diversion’ services”.

“These services place health professionals at police stations and courts to assess suspects for a range of health problems, including drug misuse, and make referrals to treatment and support. Information shared with the criminal justice system can be used to inform decisions, supporting diversion into treatment as part of an alternative to charge or to custody where appropriate.

We are also interested in problem-solving courts, such as drug courts, given evidence of success in other jurisdictions. Officials are now working with members of the judiciary to consider how the problem-solving approach might be developed for England and Wales.”

Source: Hansard

This is good news and is to be welcomed.  However, why can’t the UK government engage with the electorate on drug law reform?  Instead of dismissing all calls for reform out of hand, how about behaving as if the UK really is a democracy?  Portugal has made massive improvements in public health through an enlightened and intelligent approach to drugs policy.  Let us hope, one day soon the UK will catch up.

Peter Reynolds 

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