HC Deb 17 December 2001 vol 377 cc16-7
10. Mr. David Chaytor (Bury, North)

What recent advice he has given to chief constables in respect of reducing drug-related crime. [21153]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Bob Ainsworth)

Chief constables are responsible for determining what action should be taken to reduce drug-related crime in their areas, taking account of the nature of the problem and other local circumstances. The Home Office issued advice on measures to reduce drug-related crime through a circular on the communities against drugs programme sent to chief officers in August 2001. Advice was also issued in October on the piloting and evaluation of the drug-testing provisions that the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 introduced. General guidance on tackling drug-related crime is also available in the communities against drugs toolkit on the Home Office crime reduction website.

Mr. Chaytor

Does the guidance specifically refer to prioritising either drug dealers or drug users? Is there a tension for local police commanders between the need to attack the root cause of the problem by tackling drug dealers, and the need to improve their crime reduction figures? It is easier to meet crime reduction targets by dealing with drug users.

Mr. Ainsworth

As my hon. Friend knows from my previous answer, we have repeatedly tried to ensure that priority is given to tackling class A drugs. We expect the police and the chief constables to pay the highest regard to the more serious crimes of trafficking and possession with intent to supply, rather than simply possession. Action must be proportionate. Class A drugs should be at the top of the list, and trafficking in any illegal drug is obviously far more serious than possession.