TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER'S BROADCAST ON 10 MARCH 2000
I make no apologies for returning to the subject of drugs so soon. As I said three weeks ago, the threat drugs pose to our children is something which terrifies all parents.
Some of you may have seen the TV programme on Wednesday night about the death of Leah Betts after taking ecstasy. Not long ago, I sat down - with Mo Mowlam and Keith Hellawell, whos the UKs anti-drugs co-ordinator and I listened to Leahs parents talk about their grief and their anger and most of all their crusade for the future against drugs.
Their tragedy was every parents nightmare. And what was chilling as you listened to them was that you realised it could happen to anyones daughter, to anyones son.
Its why Im determined that, as a country, we will do everything we can to tackle the menace of drugs. But theres no point pretending we can do it alone.
Those behind this evil trade dont recognise national borders. The drugs that cause the most damage to our young people and to our society are not grown here. Theyre often not refined here. And the main supply routes, as you know, are usually controlled by criminal gangs based a long way from our shores.
Hard drugs sold on the streets of London or Glasgow can be grown in Afghanistan or Columbia and make a fortune for criminals based anywhere in the world.
So if we are serious about stopping the drugs trade we have to think and act internationally. Because unless we do, we will simply fail.
Of course, its up to us as countries to draw up our own policies and plans to tackle drugs. And the weapons we use wont always be the same in the fight against drugs.
Keith Hellawell is driving forward new policies and new approaches to tackling drugs here. Policies which are already making a difference.
And I was in Scotland yesterday to look at the Drug Enforcement Agency - set up as one of the first priorities of the new Scottish Parliament.
Its an exciting initiative intended to co-ordinate action against drugs north of the border and one we will be watching closely.
But whether we do things slightly differently in Scotland to England, or in the UK to the rest of the Europe, or indeed in Europe to the rest of the world, the real lesson for all of us is that we can only win this war against drugs together.
There is a great deal of good work already going on internationally particularly in Europe - between Governments, police forces and other anti-drug agencies such as customs.
But if we needed any reminder that more must be done, we only have to look at the amount of drugs still being peddled on our streets, the number of addicts and the amount of crime fuelled by drugs.
So we want to press European Union leaders to give an even higher priority to this battle.
There must be rapid progress, for instance, on agreeing minimum penalties throughout the European Union for those caught trafficking in drugs like cocaine and heroin. Dealers must know they will face severe penalties wherever they are caught.
I also want us to work harder in Europe to learn from each other. We all share drug problems. We must also share the successful methods we have found to counter them.
And I want to see common targets so we can measure the success of our anti-drug action plans. By enabling us to compare our performance nationally, it will highlight the weaknesses so that we can put them right.
But we have also got to reach out beyond the existing European Union members to countries like Poland and Hungary - helping those countries that want to join us.
We are already helping them economically to prepare for European Union membership. But we must also help them in the fight against international crime and drugs. Not just for their own sakes now but for the future of an enlarged European Union.
Britain will be setting a lead by expanding our own anti-drugs programmes with these countries.
Increasing the assistance, for instance, we already give in training police and customs officers. Providing the extra resources they need from sniffer dogs to computer software to spot money laundering.
So we are going to set a lead internationally. Keith Hellawell is doing this with INTERPOL and the United Nations. But we are also going to do more at home.
In the next few days, we will be unveiling the new Criminal Justice Bill. This will give police new powers to help break the link between drugs and crime. For the first time, they will be able to test for drugs suspects they have arrested for a whole range of offences.
Its a controversial move but one that I am convinced is right. Because I know you expect us to do all we can to combat the threat drugs pose to our families, our communities and our country. And thats what we will continue to do, whether at home or abroad.