Below we have embedded the Parliament TV coverage of Danny from Transform’s recent appearance as a witness before the Home Affairs Select Committee (HAC) as part of its enquiry into UK drug policy. He appeared alongside Niamh Eastwood from Release and was followed by Tom Lloyd, former Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire. Worth a look, especially if you're interested to see how reformers present what is often seen as difficult information in a somewhat hostile environment.
The Committee previously undertook a review of UK drug policy in 2001/2, which recommended the UK Government to initiate a debate at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, on alternatives to prohibition, including legal regulation. Danny gave evidence back then, when the Chair was Chris Mullin MP. Keith Vaz MP’s style is very different and his questioning was occasionally frustrating as he sought sound bite answers to sometimes complex questions.
It was great to be working with both Niamh and Tom, who both gave excellent presentations. The oral presentations also follow on from written evidence submitted previously (see here), whilst Niamh also presented evidence from Release’s excellent new report on decriminalisation, and Danny from the AlternativeWorld Drug Report and Blueprint for Regulation.
Some notable moments included Julian Huppert MP producing a copy of The Sun’s coverage of its recent poll, showing that the majority of the public support trials of Portugese style decriminalisation in UK cities and a wider review of all policy options, including legal regulation.
There was also some oddly misplaced populist posturing from Michael Ellis MP, apparently more interested in using the enquiry to show his opposition to reform, than listening to what the witnesses had to say and considering or interrogating their evidence.
It is clear that we are approaching a tipping point in the reform debate, but we will have to wait and see if the HASC report can contribute significantly to the process. The all too evident divergence of views on the committee suggest that we should be careful to manage expectations of the final report. However, the single most compelling call that Tom, Danny and Niamh all made in this session was for some kind of evidence-based review of all policy options. It would be surprising if this. at least, failed to make it into the final report.