I was very glad to read in your paper (November 18) that Gloucestershire is one of only three counties not to have made any intimate searches of drug suspects since 2009. Such searches are, as you say, 'humiliating and degrading' and lead to very few arrests.

But we need to go much further than this if we are to find any solution to the problem of drugs in our society. On the front page of your paper of October 28 you gave space to a brave young man, whose mother is currently in Eastwood Park prison for drug offences. He pleads movingly for addicts like his mother to be give support rather than criminalised.

Those countries where drugs are seen as a public heath, rather than a criminal justice, matter (for example Portugal) have seen reductions in drug related harm. If we could follow this lead our prisons could have the space to rehabilitate offenders, leading to less crime. Our police could be freed to fight serious crimes, making our streets safer. We need to understand and treat our drug problems, not engage in a fruitless war on unhappy and disturbed people, who are crying out for our help.

Mary Brown,