Freedom of Information ruling on drug classification proposals blocked by the Home Office

A few weeks ago this blog reported on a significant development. The Drug Equality Alliance (DEA) had obtained a Freedom of Information ruling forcing the government to publish the draft consultation document on a review of the UK’s drugs classification system. You can read the full account of it here and here.

This was a very significant ruling, because it is strongly suspected to show that the government was aware in 2006 when Charles Clarke ordered the review of the drugs classification regime that they were aware the system was not fit for purpose.  This goes right to the heart of the workings of the Misuse of Drugs Act and, not to put too fine a point on it, has the potential to totally undermine the whole regime.

Now of course, we don’t know what the document contains, we were promised the details would be released by a date earlier this week, but of course, we waited in vain. Finally today the Information Commissioners Office  (ICO) sent the following communication to Darryl Bickler of the DEA:

Sent: Wed 14/04/10 8:57 AM
Subject: Fwd: ICO to Mr Bickler [Ref. FS50198230]
Re_ ICO to Mr Bickler re Decision Notice[Ref. FS50198230].html (7.6 Kb) attached
14th April 2010

Case Reference Number FS50198230

Dear Mr Bickler

The Home Office has advised that it has appealed to the First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights) against the Decision Notice in this case. The ICO has written to Mr Hardison advising him of this.

Should you require any further information please contact:

First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights)
GRC & GRP Tribunals
PO Box 9300
Arnhem House
31 Waterloo Way
Leicester
LE1 8DJ

T:  0845 6000 877
F:  0116 249 4253
E:  informationtribunal@tribunals.gsi.gov.uk
W: http://www.informationtribunal.gov.uk/

Yours sincerely

Mrs H Jarman
Senior Complaints Officer
FOI Team 2  Police, Justice and Taxation

So the ICO or the Home Office kept everyone waiting as long as they possibly could before informing them that the Home Office had decided to appeal against the ruling to reveal the information.

What this will do of course is to delay the publication of this damning information until the election is safely out of the way. As we speculated in the last blog, the last thing this government wants is for the issue of drugs to become an issue in this election. If this document contains the information we think it contains, the whole mess that is the UK’s drugs policy would have been exposed, it simply couldn’t have been allowed to happen.

The fact that the establishment is acting in such an underhand way and is clearly desperate to keep this information secret speaks volumes.

Will any of the party’s fighting this sham of an election ask probing questions about this? Not a chance.

** Edit 18th April – I had called the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) the Freedom of Information Office (FOI). I’ve corrected that mistake. Thanks to Darryl Bickler for putting me right.

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About UKCIA

UKCIA is a cannabis law reform site dedicated to ending the prohibition of cannabis. As an illegal drug, cannabis is not a controlled substance - it varies greatly in strength and purity, it's sold by unaccountable people from unknown venues with no over sight by the authorities. There is no recourse to the law for users and the most vulnerable are therefore placed at the greatest risk. There can be no measures such as age limits on sales and no way to properly monitor or study the trade, let alone introduce proper regulation. Cannabis must be legalised, as an illegal substance it is very dangerous to the users and society at large.

3 comments on “Freedom of Information ruling on drug classification proposals blocked by the Home Office

  1. phrtao

    It would be much easier for a new government (maybe a new coalition) to change things than the existing one – especially just before an election. So it may be fortuitous timing if the document sees the light of day after the election is decided.

    By the way
    Heard Michael Gove say on newsnight (13/4/2010) that he was Ok with the fact that community decisions on policing would lead to cannabis being de-criminalised in some areas. He even mentioned the Lambeth experiment as an example of how it can work.
    Nick Clegg said in the manifesto launch today (14/4/2010) that prison was not really the place for drug offenders (he used the word addicts but from what he said it was clear he had broader ambitions for all drug offenders) and this was a way to save money.

    Not heard labour mention it yet – not surprising though !

  2. a41dog

    I’ll propose a Legalize Cannabis Bill and Fundamental Reform Bill if I am elected to Parliament so abuse, bankruptcy, corruption and incompetence like this never happens again!!!

    If I aint elected, I lobby the elected MPs of all parties for such change that we need…

    Steven J Humphrey
    Independent, Bournemouth East, UK General Election 2010

  3. Sunshine Band

    I now understand that the Appeal from the Home Office refers to 2 categories of information. S 21 information abd s35 (1) (a) information.

    The Home Office has conceded the release of the S21 infrmation but now appeals only on the s35(1)(a) info (ministerial decision making processes). We have approx 40 pages disclosed by Home Office today with whole sections redacted. In the redacted sections we see they want to hide the following sections:

    1. The Ministerial Forward (!!)
    2. The Purpose of the Review
    3. The Options for consideration – alternative classification systems.

    More later

Comments are closed.