William asks a 'big question' on legalising drugs during chat with ex-addicts

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The Duke of Cambridge has quizzed recovering addicts about their thoughts on legalising drugs during a visit to a charity supporting users to get clean.

William told three former users it was a "question I had to ask" after talking to them and visiting the east London-based Spitalfields Crypt Trust (SCT), which for more than 50 years has provided much-needed services for alcohol and drug addicts.

In a lighter moment during the visit, the Duke was given two wooden owls for Prince George and Princess Charlotte and a third for his unborn child - and he joked with a former addict, now a trainee midwife, he might see her sooner than she thought.

Duke of Cambridge visits the Spitafields Crypt Trust

Sitting in an art room used by the charity based in Shoreditch, the Duke said to the trio: "Can I ask you a very massive question - it's a big one - there's obviously a lot of pressure growing in areas about legalising drugs and things like that. What are your individual opinions on that?

"I know it's a big question, but you seem like the key people to actually get a very good idea as to, you know, what are the big dangers there - what are the feelings?"

Heather Blackburn, 49, was the first to reply and said she thought the legalisation of drugs was "a good idea" and that money was wasted on "drug laws".

She added: "Most of the people I've known in recovery, 95%, had massive trauma and terrible stuff happen to them and using drugs to cope and then you get put in prison, you don't get the facilities and the actual help you need, you get punished.

"Which is not going to help anyone taking drugs, it's going to even do more harm I think."

When William asked: "So there needs to be more of a social element to it?" she replied there should be more help, such as psychiatrists, so people could turn their lives around earlier.

The Duke added: "So prison doesn't tackle the root cause of why someone is taking drugs?" and Ms Blackburn replied "No, it just punishes what you've done, not the reasons why."