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Decriminalising drugs would empower gangs, says minister

by Kieran Andrews The Times, posted 24 10 2019

Decriminalising drugs in Scotland would create an “open market” for criminals to import substances to England, a minister has claimed.

Kit Malthouse, the UK policing minister, said that “county lines” gangs would be given an opportunity to work from an easier base if laws varied north and south of the border.

He was keeping “an open mind” on allowing drug consumption rooms, or “shooting galleries”, which have been proposed as part of easing Scotland’s drugs crisis. The number of drug deaths in Scotland last year was 1,187, the highest on record.

Mr Malthouse told the Commons’ Scottish affairs committee, which is investigating drug deaths: “If possession and use was decriminalised in Scotland but not in England then that’s an open market for gangs to run drugs.”

He suggested the SNP should focus on treating the “grim issue” of drug deaths instead of consumption rooms.

John Alexander, leader of Dundee council, which has the highest rate of drug deaths in Scotland, urged governments at Holyrood and Westminster to consider changing the law.

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