Drug Policy Alliance to Honor British Commander Brian Paddick for Pioneering Achievements in Harm Reduction, Cannabis Law Reform

Press Release November 4, 2003
Media Contact

Tony Newman at (510) 812-3126 or Shayna Samuels at (646) 523-6961

Just a week after the British Parliament reclassified cannabis as a Class C, rather than a Class B, drug, the Drug Policy Alliance will be honoring one of the pioneers of drug law reform in the UK. Commander Brian Paddick, who has served with the Metropolitan Police Service for over 25 years, implemented a year-long pilot program in Lambeth, South London, demonstrating that replacing arrests for cannabis possession with warnings which incur no criminal record is feasible, practical and helpful in enhancing community safety. The new British law does not eliminate arrests for cannabis possession, but does reduce the maximum penalty for possession of cannabis from five years to two.

Paddick’s program, which he instigated while borough commander of Lambeth in 2001, resulted in reduced crime rates, increased arrests for more serious crimes and an enormous savings in police-hours. He will receive the H. B. Spear Award for Achievement in the Field of Control and Enforcement from the Drug Policy Alliance at their 2003 Biennial Conference being held in New Jersey. The awards ceremony will take place on Friday November 7, 2003.“Commander Paddick represents the best of what law enforcement can be – compassionate, effective and sensible,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “He has proven that law enforcement officials can be extremely powerful partners in implementing drug policy reform.”

The Alliance is the leading organization in the U.S. working to end the war on drugs and promote new drug policies based on science, compassion, health and human rights. The upcoming conference is the principal gathering in the United States of people opposed to the war on drugs. It will be a comprehensive three-day crash course on drug issues, connecting the dots between European drug policies, new advances in drug treatment, Canadian reforms, Latin America and civil liberties. Hundreds of drug policy experts, politicians, treatment and criminal justice professionals, activists, and concerned citizens are expected to attend.

The award is named for the late H. B. Spear, who for over a quarter century worked with the belief that drug control and law enforcement must be pursued with a sense of rationality and compassion. He was an Inspector in the Drugs Branch of the Home Office in London and eventually rose to the rank of Chief Inspector, a post from which he retired in 1986.

“Brian Paddick showed that determined leadership can achieve positive reform, despite the law,” said Dame Ruth Runciman, who served as a member of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs for twenty years. “We need more people like Paddick to achieve consistent, fair and proportionate responses to cannabis possession which do not give criminal records to tens of thousands of otherwise law-abiding young people.”

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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