Thursday, 12 March 2009

New Victorian Police Chief and Legalisation

If you could convince me that legalising heroin ... if there was evidence that says that was the way to go, that that would lead to lesser harm to individuals and lesser harm to the community, I would be prepared to back it and try it. -Newly Appointed Victoria Police Chief Commissioner - Simon Overland
With the UN about to meet and make a declaration on international drug policy, it is significant that dozens of media articles damning the “War on Drugs” have appeared. The emphasis on human rights and alternative drug policy strategies have saturated the opinion pages along with public announcements by drug experts, researchers and law enforcement officials. The US and their “War on Drugs” have dictated the UN’s agenda on drug control since it first began 100 years ago and usually very little is ever written about it. That is all changing. Adding their voice is Victoria’s new Chief Commissioner of Police, Simon Overland.
I would be prepared to try decriminalisation of some drugs if there was evidence that was the best way to go -Newly Appointed Victoria Police Chief Commissioner - Simon Overland
Simon Overland is the second top ranking police official to recently voice their support for Harm Minimisation and alternative drug strategies. Last year, Federal Police Boss, Mick Kelty publicly gave his support to Harm Minimisation and made a plea to seek out a more successful drug policy. What is most striking about these comments is the call for evidence based strategies. The standard tactic for prohibitionists is to brand someone ‘soft on drugs’ if they suggest alternatives to Zero Tolerance policing so not surprisingly, Overland was cautious with his words.
But I think you would want ... to be really certain about the outcomes, and you would want rigorous evaluation and be really clear that this is achieving what you think it is going to -Newly Appointed Victoria Police Chief Commissioner - Simon Overland
The call for evidence based policies is reassuring that Victoria may have picked the best candidate for the Chief Commissioner of Police. He may have been cautious but the underlying message was obvious. Luckily Victoria’s top cop has evidence on his side. For years, experts have canned the “War on Drugs” but lately it has escalated with the public quickly catching on. Whilst politicians and anti-drug crusaders keep the trash media busy with the usual drug hysteria, more perceptive journalists and observers have started to voice their views and expose the scary truth of prohibition.
New Police Chief Open To Legalising Heroin Adelaide Now By Rick Wallace March 2009 NEW Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland says he would support decriminalising a range of drugs if the benefits outweighed the risks. In an interview with The Weekend Australian, he said he was “cautiously agnostic” about decriminalising drugs. He said police could not win the war on drugs. But while he supported harm minimisation approaches for users, dealers should face the full force of the law. “For the people who are making lots of money out of it, I am absolutely in favour of throwing everything at them and locking them away,” Mr Overland said. “But at the lower end, people who are users and, in a sense, victims themselves, then I think it’s actually about finding effective interventions. “I would be prepared to try decriminalisation of some drugs if there was evidence that was the best way to go. “I’d need to be convinced. For instance, things like cannabis, if there was evidence that that was the approach that would lead to the least harm, I would support it, but you’d want to see the evidence.” Mr Overland, who succeeded Christine Nixon this week, said he was yet to see such evidence but he was willing to be convinced about various drugs. “That applies right across the board,” he said. “If you could convince me that legalising heroin ... if there was evidence that says that was the way to go, that that would lead to lesser harm to individuals and lesser harm to the community, I would be prepared to back it and try it. “But I think you would want ... to be really certain about the outcomes, and you would want rigorous evaluation and be really clear that this is achieving what you think it is going to.” He acknowledged the political barriers to decriminalisation, but said he did not believe it was impossible to achieve.

2 comments:

jay said...

Maybe you (webmaster) could send the new commissioner the data (articles / facts that are relevant)for the successful Swiss,Dutch,German prescription diamorphine programs...
We dont need to rely on guesswork..these programs in the more progressive countries are achieving fantastic results.. and there must be stats to back up the claims they make...

Terry Wright said...

Thanks Jay

Maybe I should. You are 100% correct saying we don't need to rely on guesswork, the evidence is already there.

Overland had to be careful not to appear too radical to the hysterical politicians, media and public who pounce on anyone that suggests being "tough on drugs" is not the answer. It's a real problem for our society when facts and evidence are treated secondary to personal opinions.