Yard chief: Anarchy is attractive
A top London police officer today publicly admitted that he finds anarchy attractive.
The comments by Commander Brian Paddick – who, as commander of the Met’s Lambeth division, introduced the “softly softly” approach to cannabis users in Brixton last year – appear on a radical website. Using the screen name “Brian: The Commander”, he also calls for cannabis to be legalised and admits that his views will probably cause him problems with his superiors.
On the site, he writes: “The concept of Anarchism has always appealed to me. The idea of the innate goodness of the individual that is corrupted by society or the system. It is a theoretical argument but I am not sure everyone would behave well if there were no laws and no system.”
He was contributing to the website http://www.urban75.com, renowned for its coverage of direct-action protests, drugs and anarchism. It has 4,000 members and is visited a million times a month.
Mr Paddick says: “Do not treat all police officers as lapdogs of a corrupt capitalist system. Dogs sometimes turn on their owners.”
On drugs, he says: “What do I really think… we need to take the criminality out of it by legalisation and strict control. We need to educate people as to the effects drugs will have on them short term/long term and allow those old enough to make their own decisions about what they do to their bodies,” adding “Bottom line – screw the dealers, help the addicts.”
He continues: “I cannot stand around waiting for others to come to their senses whilst people’s lives are destroyed through drugs. I am doing what I think is right in the current circumstances even if I think I would do something different if the law was different. This is not a cop out and I have engaged in the philosophical / hypothetical debate here and in Parliament. BUT WHAT DO I DO IN MY CURRENT POSITION NOW? HELP ME!!”
He admits to contributing to the website in an interview with the magazine The Big Issue, but insists his views are personal ones. In it, he says: “Clearly we are not getting it right in terms of dealing with the problems of dealing in Class A drugs in Brixton. What the boards have enabled me to do is get a feel for what people think from their perspective versus what I know.”
Mr Paddick, who is Britain’s highest ranking openly gay officer, also makes it clear he is taking a risk simply by discussing the issues in a public forum. He writes: “I have to be careful. Expressing my views here could end up in the press or on my bosses’ desks.”
He continues: “Of course the beauty of the internet is that no one can prove who you are. First newspaper article based on these boards and I’m out of here.
“I do not give two hoots about my promotion prospects but I do care about keeping my job here in Brixton. One step too far and I might be counting paper clips in the Personnel Department. Most people in the police think I am beyond redemption, ‘let’s get the guys in the white coats to take him away’.”
Mr Paddick adds: “Someone has already found out which gay club I go to and is trying to cause SERIOUS shit for me. It’s nice to be popular!! I have been described as politically naive. If this means I say what’s in my heart, I’m happy to be labelled as such. I’m either brave or stupid.”
The website’s Brixton-based editor Mike Slocombe said: “Brian is to be commended for having the bottle to do it.” Mr Paddick introthe “softly softly” pilot drugs project in Lambeth last July, whereby anyone caught with small amounts of cannabis escapes with a caution instead of arrest and prosecution.
Since the launch in Brixton, hundreds of people in possession of small amounts of the drug have not been prosecuted, saving thousands of hours of police time.
But critics claim the scheme has lead to an influx of cannabis users into the area and a growth in hard drugs. Last week former New York mayor Rudi Giuliani criticised the scheme, saying anyducedone caught with cannabis should be arrested.
Mr Paddick is on leave, but admits that his bosses knew nothing about his contributions to the website, which could prove a huge embarrassment to the Yard and may well raise questions about his future prospects with the Met.