A POLICE commissioner says he is ready to stake his reputation on controversial proposals to decriminalise hard drugs.

Ron Hogg, Durham and Darlington’s elected Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), wants Class A drugs such as heroin made available to addicts on the NHS.

And last night (Tuesday, October 29), he told The Northern Echo: “If it doesn’t work, I’ll stand up and be counted and say I was wrong.

“You shouldn’t fight shy of doing the right thing because some people don’t like it.”

Mr Hogg, who was a police officer for 30 years, will today launch a major publicity drive, which he hopes will trigger a public debate on the issue.

The debate was reignited in dramatic style last month when Durham’s tough talking chief constable Mike Barton wrote an article in The Observer newspaper saying the war on drugs had “comprehensively failed” and calling for the changes supported by Mr Hogg.

Mr Hogg, who will be speaking about the issue on national radio today, said he wanted addicts given heroin to inject under close medical supervision, treating them as victims, not offenders.

This would cut the main income stream funding the region’s criminal gangs, he said, meaning less crime and safer communities.

He stressed he did not want drugs legalised, but addiction decriminalised.

Mr Hogg said the effort to stop heroin coming into the UK had failed and if Nato could not stop its production in Afghanistan, the police could not stop its spread here at home. Mr Hogg admitted the response to Mr Barton’s article had been “mixed”.

Cleveland PCC Barry Coppinger has called for a Royal Commission on the issue but Northumbria PCC Vera Baird said drug use was declining and decriminalisation was not the right approach.

Chief Constable Andy Bliss, the Association of Chief Police Officers’ policing lead on drug-related crime, said the matters were for Parliament to decide.

However, Mr Hogg claimed up to 70 per cent of responses had been supportive.

“People realise if we continue doing what we always done, we’ll always get the results we’ve always got.

“We believe we need to do something radically different,” he said.