Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dragon's Eye

Really shocked by the performance of the Chair of the North Wales Police Authority on Dragon's Eye tonight. Young people in North Wales already have a Chief Constable who emits the message that they should be free to enjoy cannabis, heroin and all other drugs that kill so many of them and are currently illegal. While admiring Richard Brunstrom in other ways, I do think the way he has promoted his opinions about this issue have made him unsuitable for the job he holds. It was stunning to see the Police Authority Chair add authority to this maverick opinion.

Drugs are the greatest scourge in our society today. The only way to deal with it is through zero tolerance. Every other Chief Constable and Police Authority in Britain must be in despair as they watch their colleagues in North Wales bringing them into such contempt across the country through their irresponsibility. I have always been very doubtful about the proposal to create directly elected police chiefs. Between them, Richard Brunstrom and the North Wales Police Authority have changed my mind.

I don't know about you, but I thought Lembit Opik looked as if was sitting on a thistle tonight - and Rhun ap Iorwerth looked to be thoroughly enjoying himself wiggling the thistle about. Lots of rictus smiling. Perhaps he's feeling the pressure! For sure, he was nothing like as assured as Tory Assembly Member, Darren Millar, who looks more the part every time I see him on TV.

UPDATE - There was an even bigger thistle in the Waterfront studio. Mai was enjoying herself as much as Rhun. More rictus. What's happened to him.


Anonymous said...

didnt see dragons eye
I was watching waterfront -did you see Lembits performace -with his cheeky girl.Now that underlined the case for geting him classed as a public danger.

Anonymous said...

I think that it's time for Lembit to go and live in Roumania after last night's performance.

Aran said...

Rather a disappointing contribution - argue the issue, not the man. Brunstrom has got the guts to say what he believes, whether it fits with what other people want him to say or not. People like that are rare and valuable in our society. Politicians can talk about the damage drugs do, but a chief constable is involved in dealing with the mess on a day-to-day basis.

If someone so closely involved with the work thinks that zero tolerance is a busted flush, any attempt to avoid the debate looks like a matter of dangerously entrenched and inflexible attitudes.

To be honest, every time I hear a politician (and some real lovelies have come out on this one, like Mark Tami) implying that xyz is a maverick and should leave politics to the politicians, I lose a bit more faith in politicians.

Glyn Davies said...

aran - I do not agree with you. I was neither arguing the issue or the man in my post - but arguing the position. I am critical of Richard Brunstom because he is the Chief Constable. I would have no objection to him expressing his opinion if he were not the person who leads law enforcement in North Wales. Young people will inevitably conclude that if the Chief Constable thinks the law is an ass, why should they respect it. Of course there must always be debate about the best way to deal with such a difficult issue. But the job of the Chief Constable is to uphold the law - and respect for the law.

Ordovicius said...

Young people will inevitably conclude that if the Chief Constable thinks the law is an ass, why should they respect it.

I doubt that very much. It is right and proper that the Chief Constable raise this debate.

As for Lembo, he was such a big girl's blouse last night that I fully expect him to be doing the panto circuit this Christmas.

Glyn Davies said...

sanddef - this looks like a case of just not agreeing - and there is not much room for debate about it - which I concede cannot be said about the drug laws themseles. Richard Brunstrom's job is to enforce the law and encourage respect for the law. On this issue he is clearly not doing the latter.

Anonymous said...

Clearly Lembit KNOWS he ain't going to win. What else eould explain the cringe-worthy performance we were subjected to? His not getting it defies belief. Every time he appears like that you gain extra votes!

Tegwared ap Seion said...

But if Richard Brunstrom is not in a position to question the law then who is?

One Wales Watcher said...

Morning Glyn, I hope you'll excuse this polite bit of astroturfing, and check out my new blog. I'm sure as the last of the die-hard One Wales Accord-ers (?!), it should make interesting reading for you! Ta. OWW.

Mountjoy said...

Well, the trend for liberal, soft-on-drugs policemen seems to be that they stand for elected office, e.g. Brian Paddick for the Lib Dems in London.

Maybe the police constable will stand for office, though will not win, and the police authority chair is clearly out of touch.

For a reality check, these guys should talk to the family of victims of murders committed by gangs with links to drugs.

Glyn Davies said...

tegwared - tell me how a policeman in North Wales is going to deal with a youngster who is breaking the drugs laws when the law breaker responds by saying "I just saw your Chief and his Authority Chair on TV telling me that he thinks this law you are arresting me for breaking is a law that shouldn't exist.

Richard Brunstom is in a position to know - and he should be telling his bosses at the Home Office. But he should not be challenging the law himself. It totally undermines the law.

One Wales Watcher - I admit to being a commited one-wales-accorder. I will add to my side bar

Aberavon & Neath Liberal Democrats said...

The logic of putting all drugs of addiction and habituation on the same footing as nicotine and alcohol is compelling.

Brunstrom is not the first senior policeman to call for this. A distinguished copper from Glasgow (whose local police authority dissociated themselves from his conclusions) put forward a persuasive case at a fringe meeting , chaired by MEP Chris Davies, in Brighton last year. You will know also that Paul Murphy (Labour) and a few fellow-Tories are also convinced.

Nor is this the first time Brunstrom has presented his evidence to the satisfaction of the North Wales Police Authority, as the chairman made clear on "Dragon's Eye".

The problem is: how do we get there from here? I have yet to see a programme for achieving this. So it looks as if we will have to put up with the present unsatisfactory state of the law.

I trust you will agree, legal or not, we do not do enough as a nation for the casualties of addictive drugs.

- Frank Little

Anonymous said...

what the hell is compelling about putting all drugs on the same footing as nicotine and alcohol. if we knew what we know now tobacco would never have been allowed to kill the millions that it has.

Glyn Davies said...

Frank - I certainly do agree that we do need to do more to deal with those who are addicted. But like anon, I really cannot see what is logical in putting drugs on the same footing as smoking and drinking, both of which cause massive damage to health and incomes. It is impossible to reverse these things once legal. All you want to do is make a bad situation worse!

Aran said...

Disagreement is healthy! (Which is why gagging Brunstrom wouldn't be).

'While admiring Richard Brunstrom in other ways, I do think the way he has promoted his opinions about this issue have made him unsuitable for the job he holds.'

That sounds to me like an attack on the man, not the position. But let's say you are attacking the position - your line of argument seems to be that his statement 'totally undermines the law'. If he was choosing not to uphold the law because he thought it was faulty, I'd agree with you - but he's been absolutely clear that he upholds the law as it stands.

'Young people will inevitably conclude that if the Chief Constable thinks the law is an ass, why should they respect it.' That's a jump and a half - teenagers who aren't part of a drug culture already are going to start experimenting because of Brunstrom?! I'd have to see some pretty convincing stats to believe that. Oh, and if suggesting improvements to the law is the same as calling it an ass, then politicians have been guilty of exactly the same thing since - well, for ever.

Do you honestly think policemen in the North will be stumped when teenagers say 'But your Chief thinks this should be legal!'...? I'd imagine they hear and deal with a whole load worse than that every day.

Let's be absolutely clear about the context to this - Brunstrom was responding to a Home Office consultation. In other words, his views were being actively canvassed. Do you think it would have been professional for him to refuse to respond? As a front line player in this field, he has a duty to give honest feedback.

If we try to gag senior figures in public life on the grounds that calls for improvements undermine the current system, the quality of debate on key issues such as this will suffer significantly - I don't believe that we can afford that, and I don't much like the idea of a state where expressing your opinions honestly makes you 'unsuitable for the job'.