‘We’ve lost the war on drugs’ Ken Clarke admits

By Georgie Keate

There has been no progress in the government’s drug policy, Ken Clarke admitted to the home affairs committee today.

The justice secretary came under pressure over the number of people who develop a drug addiction in prison and go on to reoffended for drug related crimes.

"There has been no progress achieved in the war on drugs. Policy has not been working," he said.

"However, the government has no intention whatsoever of changing the law towards decriminalisation."

He added: "Personally, I have not been persuaded by decriminalisation, I worry it would lose the deterrent effect that prevents young people taking drugs."

The home affairs committee, which is currently making an inquiry into drugs policy, revealed that 84 prison officers have been prosecuted for drug related corruption in the last five years.

A report from Policy Exchange, however, estimated the number of corrupt officials at 1,000.

The committee suggested rehabilitation services in prisons were not effective enough.

Mr Clarke responded that he was critical of the way inmates were kept on dosages on methadone rather than being treated for heroin addiction.

The government's policy came under further criticism when director of offender health Richard Bradshaw claimed policy had not changed since 2006.

In his defence, the justice secretary insisted the Department Of Health should have a stronger role in prison rehabilitation to improve recovery levels of drug addicts.

"Co-ordination is needed between departments to tackle the drugs problem. There is a history of departmental rivalry but we have been working with the Department Of Health and it has gone remarkably smoothly," he said.

The committee's review into government drug policy and its efforts to reduce supply continues.