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Letter to the Command Secretariat of the PSNI regarding Article 14 of the Human Rights Act

HM Gov admits that it is an historical and cultural tradition to treat peoples’ activities with alcohol and tobacco separately and more leniently than our activities with other substances whilst it also acknowledges that alcohol and tobacco abuse causes the vast majority of real health and social harms.

The Department of Health, Social Services is not using its devolved discretionary powers (to make persons’ activities with cannabis lawful so as to reduce health inequalities and to enable people in Northern Ireland to increase control over and improve their health and social well-being).

Thus an act intended to protect the public from the health and social harms caused by the misuse of drugs is being administered improperly and in violation of ECHR anti-discrimination legislation.

I have been raided 4 times over 6 years by the PSNI for cultivating cannabis, resulting 6 convictions (cultivation and possession are 2 separate convictions). Whilst seeking a high court intervention from the most recent prosecutions I wrote to PSNI legal services about the duty of the PSNI to uphold our human rights re our activities with cannabis that have been deemed unlawful by the state.

 

Command Secretariat
Police Service of Northern Ireland
Police Headquarters
Brooklyn
65 Knock Road
Belfast
BT5 6LE

Dear Chief Constable Baggott, Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie, and Assistant Chief Constables Dave Jones, Alistair Finlay, Drew Harris, George Hamilton and Will Kerr;

I seek an acknowledgement from the Senior Team that your legal services have altered the wording (and thus the meaning) of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

I wrote to PSNI legal services in respect of the less favourable treatment by HM Government towards people who use cannabis compared to the more lenient treatment of those people who use alcohol or tobacco. The reply I received from legal services claimed that:-

“…..the Human Rights Act 1998 and other legislation outlaws discrimination on a range of specified grounds. These include race, gender, colour, language, etc. Persons who use controlled substances are not within the range of categories specified in the Human Rights Act 1998 or other legislation.”

This reply from the PSNI legal services is incorrect. The correct wording from the ECHR is:-

ARTICLE 14
Prohibition of discrimination
“The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status.”

The Northern Ireland Act 1998 defines legislative discrimination in subsection 98(4):-
“For the purposes of this Act, a provision of an Act of the Assembly or of subordinate legislation discriminates against any person or class of persons if it treats that person or that class less favourably in any circumstances than other persons are treated in those circumstances by the law.”

I hope that, in living up to its claim to be the finest Police Service in the world, the PSNI will fearlessly investigate (1) why its own legal services have misquoted the law, (2) why the Minister of Health for Northern Ireland has failed to exercise his powers so as to meet the requirements of s2 and s13 of the Health and Social Care (Reform) Act (Northern Ireland) 2009 and (3) why has the Minister of Health failed to abide by his Pledge of Office to “serve all the people of Northern Ireland equally, and to act in accordance with the general obligations on government to promote equality and prevent discrimination.” See paragraph 6.19 of  “Drugs Policy – a radical look ahead?” by Richard Brunstrom QPM, B.Sc. (Hons.), M.Sc. Chief Constable North Wales Police, which is available in the Essential Reading section of www.drugequality.org.

Yours sincerely, James Torrens-Spence

 

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