The Home Affairs Select Committee spent a year on its drugs inquiry, and its hefty report is finally published today. During the inquiry, MPs heard from charities, ministers, and Russell Brand, who called committee member Michael Ellis his ‘mate’ during evidence.
But the committee members haven’t had such a matey response from ministers. The Home Office has already made clear that it doesn’t believe the ‘Drugs: Breaking the Cycle’ report’s central recommendations need to be enacted. The committee wanted a Royal Commission to ‘consider the best ways of tackling drugs policy in an increasingly globalised world’. It also suggested that decriminalisation ‘merits significantly closer consideration’, the idea that has unsurprisingly received the most attention in the press this morning.
The Home Office isn’t just questioning those ideas: its minister, Jeremy Browne, made it clear he doubted the underlying assumption in the report that the department’s drugs policy is currently failing. Appearing a few minutes ago on the Today programme, he said:
‘It is not true to say that we are making no progress on drugs. There have been dramatic falls in the amounts of drug consumption and the harm caused by drugs… The average age of heroin addicts because fewer young people are coming on stream… We have a growing problem with the drugs that are legal… and we have a diminishing problem with the drugs that are illegal.’
Browne was careful to praise the report repeatedly during his interview on the Today programme, saying ‘it’s a responsible and thoughtful and thought-provoking report’, but its clear that it will be sitting thoughtfully on his shelf in the Home Office, rather than sparking any action that comes anywhere close to a Royal Commission.
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