Pubdate: Sat, 16 Mar 2002
Source: Independent  (UK)
Copyright: 2002 Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd
Author: Cahal Milmo


The Police Commander whose use of the internet to discuss his views on 
anarchy led to a dressing-down from his superiors issued a strident defence 
yesterday of his decision to relax cannabis laws.

Brian Paddick, who is in charge of policing in Lambeth, south London, said 
the pilot scheme, in which users in the borough were cautioned, had 
increased the number of arrests of dealers in hard drugs.

The controversial "softly, softly" approach was aimed at freeing police 
resources by merely reprimanding those in possession of small amounts of 
cannabis rather than arresting them. Mr Paddick, who was lampooned for his 
use of an internet chatroom to talk to Londoners, said his officers had 
been able to concentrate on disrupting the heroin and crack cocaine trade 
as a result.

He told Today on BBC Radio 4: "There has been an increase in the arrest of 
people for dealing in drugs as a consequence and I am very pleased with the 

"It is not about taking any moral stance on cannabis. It is about 
concentrating scarce police resources on those drugs that cause most harm."

The commander said he believed the six-month trial should be extended. The 
Government is considering proposals to downgrade cannabis to a Class C 
drug, removing police powers of arrest.

The success of the scheme will be seen as a personal triumph for Mr Paddick 
after he spearheaded the trial. But his "innovative" methods have not 
always found favour with his bosses. The Commander was censured earlier 
this week at a meeting with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir John 
Stevens, for saying on the chatroom he found the concept of anarchism 
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