There was a shocking documentary on Channel 5 on 19th July 2018, filmed at a prison in the North East. 50% of all inmates were there on drugs offences, drugs were endemic within the walls with dealers openly, and with the full knowledge of the guards, trading drugs, some making £3000 a week inside. More shocking was that some prisoners wanted to be inside as the gains were so lucrative.
I knew it was bad but had no idea it was that bad.
The following morning on LBC I listened aghast as Nick Ferrari revealed the crime statistics that have just been released. 50% of all crime is committed in London, shocking but no surprise, and nationwide over 90% of crime is never solved. Most of it drug related.
Ferrari also posited to an ex-police officer that under-reporting means that the situation was even worse than that. He conceded that it was.
Simply put, crime is now out of control. So, is it time to redefine crime?
Now when you can walk along any street in any medium sized town, let alone Khan’s London, and smell the stink of cannabis and watch completely unabashed and unworried drug dealers plying their trade you know there is a problem.
The war on drugs is lost.
The link between drug dealing and gang, gun and knife crime is undeniable. The fact that most of the criminals involved and their unfortunate victims are black or Eastern European is also undeniable. But what is also undeniable, and unforgivable is that in the face of this evidence this Government, and all governments before them, have had no strategy to deal with it. Nor, as far as I am aware, does UKIP.
So, I’m going to start the debate. This is what I believe.
1. The drug problem must now be considered a medical and mental issue rather than a criminal one.
2. The victims of drugs are the hopeless emaciated users of them, the stabbed kids and those burgled to fund the habit. Not the chattering classes or, probably, most readers here. These victims need help and medical intervention, not punishment.
3. The catalyst that feeds this evil industry are the largely middle-class and middle-aged cocaine users who with their decadence, depravity and holier-than-thou attitudes pump the real money – tens of billions- into that which creates this whole economy in the first place.
In short, it’s not the fault of Winston in Brixton, it’s the fault of Hooray Henry in Hampstead.
However, Hooray Henry is not going to get stabbed on the street, or go to jail even in the infinitesimally small chance that he’s caught. Senior police officers are not directing their diminishing forces to catch him either. There is a pervasive line of thought and an unwritten rule that Henry, with his dinner-party and week-end drug habit, is not the problem, when in fact he is the prime cause. By the way, Henry votes Tory.
So, what should we do?
Simple. We take the money out the system and put the revenues back into the Police and NHS though licences and taxes.
If all drugs are decriminalised, and available through secure Government licensed premises, to registered users at sub-street prices two things will happen, and fast.
The first is that all the drugs dealers will be out of business overnight as the Government would have just disrupted and dismantled their entire economic model; and secondly, the ‘naughtiness’ and rituals of the undercover drug users would have been turned into banality. It will go out of fashion.
As an example, in the early ‘80’s CB radios were legalised. Within months the trade and use of them was wiped out as the trend died off naturally.
But more significantly, in Colorado and in Portugal, there is already compelling evidence that legalisation and/or decriminalisation is not only reducing crime and death rates dramatically, but also, amongst the youth, new users of drugs are in dramatic decline. Canada is following suit. Why not the UK?
Combined with humane and considerate treatment of those addicted to drugs, this policy would have dramatic effects, and very quickly.
Decriminalisation will free up, not only half our prison space, but an equivalent amount of police time and vast amounts of money. In addition, revenues from legitimately licensed drugs will add billions to the public purse. It only makes sense to do this.
There is, currently, amongst the two major political parties, no appetite for this radical approach which is why I strongly suggest UKIP pick up the ball and run with it. Remember this is not, in 2018 Britain, a moral question, it’s purely practical. We cannot go on like this.
Let’s get the debate started, and back it up with facts from criminologists, scientists and medical practitioners first, and start making some changes.