Britain's Drugs Crisis: Law 'motivates criminal activity': Viewpoint
Thursday 03 March 1994
A reluctant awareness of the broad effect of drug legislation now permeates senior police management discussions. The other agencies - Customs and Excise and members of the judiciary, the legislature and the medical profession - all face the dilemma that the current cure may well be more detrimental to society than the disease.
Very few people have ever maintained that the criminal law could prevent the personal use of any substance in private. Most users pass through the drug stage without suffering personal medical harm, without graduating through the range of substances available and without incurring the long-term effects of a criminal conviction or expulsion from school.
Deployments of police and Customs officers have concentrated on the importation and supply routes, and growing resources of manpower and equipment have been targeted at the top of the supply pyramid.
Better leadership, intelligence, international co-operation and training have produced increases in the traditional measures of success: seizures and convictions. However, all agencies estimate an effect on no more than one-tenth of the market.
If the effect of the current policy is minimal on supply and use, then what is its side effect on society?
A basic knowledge of market forces would reveal that the current policy maintains a high commodity price at both wholesale and street levels. Indeed, the high price in the United Kingdom has been used as an indicator of successful seizure rates. That high price produces high profits along the supply chain and gives rise to two secondary crime problems.
The vast nation-wide increases in property crimes - burglary, theft, car offences, robbery - is directly related to the costs of drug use. All the police research indicates drug use by a majority - varying from 70 to 80 per cent - of active criminals. Victims of crimes are more worthy of our sympathy than the users and they alone provide motivation to reassess current policy.
The philanthropic drug dealer does not exist. The current approach ensures that profit margins are high, and we create a 'high profit-low risk' business attracting recruits from the entire range of established criminality. Every new entrant into the supply chain, whether in importation or near street level, has a motive to increase use and to move the base user on to more profitable 'harder' drugs.
Individuals set against decriminalisation quote the 'slippery slope' argument and blame the drug itself or the inclination of users. If the commodity were credit, they would without hesitation point to the banks or other financial institutions for encouraging excessive use and would argue for regulation, nationalisation and supportive education. Yet with drug supply, they ignore their own market and behavioural experience and blame user and commodity.
The drug entrepreneurs are creating an anti-social sphere of activity that treats murder as an overhead, produces a black economy of vast proportions, produces corrupt approaches to the countering agencies, sets a reprehensible example to youth and is motivated purely by profit.
Decriminalisation takes the profit out of the equation and takes the user away from the criminal supplier. Legalisation is not a surrender but a recognition that economics is a more potent weapon than the criminal law.
The aim of society is the lowest level of drug use achievable. The criminal law is incapable of delivering that aim and, ironically, it produces motive for myriad other crimes that injure individuals more demanding of consideration than the user of drugs. It is time for a rethink.
Until last June, Edward Ellison was Detective Chief Superintendent, Crime Support Unit, Specialist Operations, New Scotland Yard. He served on the national team that initiated the formation of the National Criminal Intelligence Service.
Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'
Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance
Marvel has released first teaser trailer week early after it leaked online
- 1 As an ex prostitute, I urge all the political parties to commit to the Sex Buyer Law
- 2 Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
- 3 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 Couple die within 28 hours of each other after being married for 73 years
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
Isis releases first video showing the stoning of woman accused of committing adultery as her father shouts 'don't call me Dad'
Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
Diwali: What is the festival of lights and how is it celebrated around the world?
Nelson Bunker Hunt dead: Former world’s richest man dies in 'modest circumstances' in US after losing his fortune
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
£21500 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...
£20000 - £22000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successful and w...
£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a quailed Teacher ...
£40 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an experience SEN Te...