Pubdate: Tue, 26 Oct 1999
Source: Daily Telegraph (UK)
Copyright: of Telegraph Group Limited 1999
Author: Sandra Laville
Cited: Transform:


The controversial American anti-drugs chief, Gen Barry McCaffrey, was
hounded by protesters in London yesterday on the first day of a visit to
share ideas on fighting illegal drug use in society.

Gen McCaffrey, a proponent of hardline solutions to illegal drug use,
including jail and a rejection of government-funded services for addicts,
was chased out of Goldsmiths College and barracked by demonstrators. Steve
Rolles, of the campaign group Transform, said they feared the arrival of
the general, who is visiting several European countries to discuss the
international fight against illegal drugs, reflected a hardening of the
British Government's stance against drug abuse.

He said America had the world's most punitive anti-drug strategy and the
worst drugs problem. "The Government has nothing to learn from Barry
McCaffrey. The US should not be exporting their drug policy. We should be
looking to other far more progressive regimes, such as those in Holland."
He expressed concern at Government plans to introduce compulsory drug
testing for anyone arrested.

Gen McCaffrey, accompanied by his British counterpart, Keith Hellawell,
arrived at Goldsmiths to launch an Internet site for professionals in the
drugs field. Demonstrators shouted "Go home Nazi scum" and "hypocrite".

The demonstrators, who included students from the college in south-east
London, claimed that the American government was responsible for flooding
inner cities with cheap crack cocaine. The general joked: "You can tell
this is a democracy."

On Radio 4's Today, Gen McCaffrey refused to label his policies zero
tolerance. "We are neither having a policy of zero tolerance nor a war on
drugs. If you wish to use a metaphor, the metaphor of cancer is more useful
to shaping our concept."

He said the success of his policy was evident in the 13 per cent reduction
in drug use in America last year. "We said the most dangerous drug user in
America is a 12-year-old smoking pot and abusing alcohol. We are talking of
gateway drugs and, taking the behaviour of a young person aged between nine
and 18, we found that where you minimise their exposure to drug taking,
statistically they will never have a compulsive drug-taking problem.

"In the past 50 years our own drug experience has been a disaster. It has
gone from no drug abuse almost at all in the Sixties to the worst problem
in modern times by 1979. In 1979 about 14 per cent of the population used
drugs. That's come down to six per cent. Cocaine use is down 70 per cent."

Gen McCaffrey stressed that he believed that education and prevention were
the "heart and soul" of the issue. Each country had to develop its own
policies to tackle its specific problems.

He said: "All of us have different legal and historical contexts. The Dutch
are a remarkably civilised, homogenous people in a small area. Their
approach might not be appropriate for us. We think the approach we are
trying is reflected in dramatically reduced rates of drug abuse."

Mr Hellawell said Gen McCaffrey had come to learn, not to preach, and was
interested in Britain's 10-year strategy to cut drug use. "It is an
international problem that needs an international response."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake