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Tories desperate to look tough on crime while tackling drug crisis


It’s in any Tory Government’s DNA to look tough on crime.

Cracking down on the gangsters at the top of the food chain should be top priority.

But implementing a hardline policing strategy that’s meant to be addressing a health crisis shows how conflicted the Tory leadership is.

They have consulted widely on drugs and much of the data that comes back directs them to places they simply don’t want to go.

Drug consumption rooms are ruled out and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has condemned Scotland’s moves towards de facto decriminalisation of possessing Class A drugs.

But Westminster is backed into a corner and has been forced to lay down plans that stretch beyond jail terms.

The £780million funding package for drug treatment programmes is specifically designed to break the cycle of crime fuelled by addiction.

Diversion schemes, that take people from court and prison to treatment, are also bolted to degrading, mandatory drug testing for suspected offenders.

The Tories have thrown in plans to take ­passports and driving licences from drug users, just to drive home their tough-on-crime message.

Dame Carol Black has made it plain that most benefit to the UK as a society will come from treatment and recovery, as the drugs supply and demand chain can’t realistically be broken.

High-quality treatment can do more to suppress demand than crackdowns.

The Tories had an opportunity to get on the same page as most of the UK by spelling out the ways people can be helped out of addiction. They’ve given a bit and taken more back at every turn.

This has been a chance missed.

If policing was stretched thin before the pandemic, extra resources are now required more than ever.

Staff are under strain and the public needs a service fit for the 21st century.

Our revelation today that about 150 officers were dispatched during COP26 with just three weeks’ training is a worrying sign.

The summit required a visible police presence but throwing rookies onto the front line was not the answer.

Scotland benefited from experienced cops from south of the Border and any shortage should have been plugged from England and Wales.

The SNP/Green Government will unveil their Budget on Thursday and the NHS and child poverty look to be ­priorities – but public safety also has to be paramount.

Ministers should remember the ­valuable role played by police and reward them with a decent funding pledge.

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