UK Politics

Ex-minister Norman Baker publishes drug plans 'blocked' by Theresa May

Norman Baker Image copyright Getty Images

Former minister Norman Baker has released details of proposals for reforming drug laws which he says Home Secretary Theresa May suppressed.

Home Office officials drew up the suggestions for a report published in October but withheld them from the final version, according to Mr Baker.

A "Portuguese model" for treating rather than prosecuting minor drug offenders was among the plans, he says.

But the Home Office has denied such a recommendation was ever made.

The Lib Dem MP resigned as crime prevention minister in November, claiming Conservative colleagues had "repeatedly blocked" the release of departmental research.

In a letter to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg on Saturday, Mr Baker urged his party leader to consider adopting three measures for reducing harmful drug use:

  • Treating addicts with prescribed heroin under clinical supervision
  • A Portuguese model in which those who commit minor drug offences are offered treatment programmes rather than facing criminal charges
  • Medicinal use of cannabis for certain conditions.

He said the Home Office had drawn up these ideas for inclusion in its report comparing the UK's drugs policy to that of other countries.

The study concluded there was "no obvious" link between tougher sanctions and levels of drug use.

'Rapidly diminishing vote'

In Mr Baker's letter, he took aim again at what he called "the Conservatives' unwillingness to consider reasonable, practical and proportionate proposals".

The Home Office disputed that its officials had ever proposed introducing the Portuguese model in this country and insisted that the current drugs strategy was working.

A spokesman for the deputy prime minister offered some support for Mr Baker's position, stating: "For decades, governments have focused on sounding tough instead of doing what works to reduce drug use."

"We believe we should treat users as people with a problem in need of help."

A Conservative Party spokesman accused the Tories' coalition partners of pandering "to their rapidly diminishing core vote".

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