AS the former Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales and a staunch advocate for a progressive drugs policy for all our constituent nations, I welcome and applaud Elena Whitham and the Scottish Government’s innovative and progressive drugs policy document, which is long overdue. Many of its contents can be easily implemented without a change of legislation.

The commentary, whether from the opposition in Scotland or the government in Westminster, makes clear that those who oppose or report on the news have no understanding of what decriminalisation actually means.

READ MORE: Scotland's drug decriminalisation plan: What is it and could it work?

All decriminalisation means is a change in how we deal with those who offend and a move away from criminal sanctions to things like diversion and drug education programmes, which have been in widespread use in police forces in England and Wales for a number of years including my own force of North Wales. I introduced the Checkpoint Cymru Diversion Project in 2019, which had elements of diversion and drug education in its programme. Hundreds of minor drug users have avoided prosecution or caution and subsequent stigmatisation in North Wales by attending the Checkpoint Cymru Programme, thus avoiding their futures being blighted by minor convictions.

The Scottish Government could introduce decriminalisation for possession of drugs through a simple agreement between them, the Lord Advocate and the chief constable of Police Scotland and/or the chair of the Scottish Police Authority.

If it can be done in County Durham, West Midlands Police and North Wales it can be done in Scotland.

We wish you well in your endeavours to reduce drug deaths in Scotland and hope that the Welsh government will learn from your positive approach.

Arfon Jones
Former Police Crime and Commissioner for North Wales (2016-2021)

I SPENT 30 years of my working life coming into contact with drug takers and suppliers. Many of the former were hardened criminals who would stop at nothing to satisfy their own urges, whether it be violent crime or drug-taking.

The pushers are targeted, but the elephant in the room which nobody wants to acknowledge is that the users create the market. It might sound obvious, but it’s an undeniable fact that users are the problem.

READ MORE: Stewart Hosie: Decriminalisation of drugs possession would save lives

Authorities have long since given up trying to persuade people not to start taking illegal drugs. This demand to have personal use decriminalised is a tacit admission of defeat. It pains me to have to agree with a Tory, but their mouthpiece on this matter got it right.

Why the Scottish Government suggests that decriminalising drug use will help is beyond me. Over many years the Scottish taxpayer has spent hundreds of millions on methadone, dishing it out to users to no avail.

Scarce NHS resources to be diverted to drug abusers, while cancer victims regularly go undiagnosed because they can’t get a GP appointment until it’s too late.

Not what I voted for.

Jim Butchart
via email

THE Scottish Government want to decriminalise the possession of small amounts of cannabis intended for personal use. It is obvious that this is being proposed in good faith. As this is not a devolved matter, it requires agreement from Westminster.

On reporting this the BBC suggested that there may be the possibility that the Scottish Government, whilst seeking permission from Westminster, may be attempting to create another argument.

Why do we put up with such nonsense? As we are repeatedly told that the BBC is politically unbiased, why do they consistently report negative information about the Scottish Government?

I do not pay my licence fee to listen to such utter rubbish.

R Pitcairn

I AM saddened by the online comments in response to Joanna Cherry’s Friday column, because at its core Joanna’s argument is about the fundamental right to free speech and the right to disagree with a majority – and I suspect in this case, an increasingly authoritarian – opinion (I’m sick of identity politics but this is a story that should concern us all, Jul 7).

I have no axe to grind here being an elderly straight man who sympathises with people who wish to live their chosen life as free as possible in a harmless manner, to be left alone free from persecution and discrimination.

From all that I have read so far in this paper on this subject, the trans community appear to indulge in substantial bullying of anyone who disagrees with them. That is not healthy nor acceptable. I trust Joanna will continue, and more importantly be allowed to continue, her robust defence of her position, even if that opinion is misguided in some people’s eyes.

Peter Kerr