UK

Prince William quizzes recovering addicts on drug laws

Prince William at the Spitalfields Crypt Trust Image copyright PA
Image caption Prince William described his visit to the addiction charity as "a very useful little snapshot"

Prince William has quizzed recovering addicts about the "big dangers" of legalising drugs.

He did not give a personal opinion but asked three former users about the "massive question" of relaxing current UK laws.

His questions came during a visit to London addiction support charity the Spitalfields Crypt Trust.

The government's drug strategy published in July indicated the need for more targeted intervention.

Prince William asked the recovering addicts: "Can I ask you a very massive question - it's a big one - there's obviously a lot of pressure growing in areas about legalising drugs and things like that. What are your individual opinions on that?

"I know it's a big question, but you seem like the key people to actually get a very good idea as to, you know, what are the big dangers there - what are the feelings?"

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One of them, Jason Malham, 45, a recovering heroin addict originally from Melbourne, said: "Personally, I believe that they should not be made legal."

However, Heather Blackburn, 49, said she thought legalisation was "a good idea" that would save money.

She said "most of the people I've known in recovery... had massive trauma" and did not get the help they needed in prison.

She added that punishment would not help anyone taking drugs and would "even do more harm".

She discussed with the prince the need to tackle the "root cause" of drug use, especially through the provision of psychiatric care.

'Useful snapshot'

Her views were echoed by Grace Gunn, 19, a recovering alcoholic, who told Prince William she is "a true believer people who end up in these places, we're damaged people".

"Whether that's through trauma or our relationship with parents or family or carer, and I think... there has to be money in mental health therapy.

"You can't have two-year waiting lists for trauma therapy - I've been waiting five years," she added, while insisting that drugs cannot be eliminated from prisons.

Ms Gunn is training to be a midwife and, in one of the trip's lighter moments, Prince William joked that the upcoming birth of his third child meant she might see him again sooner than she thought.

Prince William described his visit to the addiction charity as "a very useful little snapshot.

"You guys have seen it and it's affected your lives in ways I can only imagine, so it's very interesting to hear that from you.

"Talking to you and being here, it feels like a question I had to ask, I appreciate your honesty."

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