The 'safe houses' represent a step forward in drug policy, but who’s brave enough to back Brighton?

Despite the overwhelming international evidence, successive governments have done more, not less, to compound the suffering of addicts and their communities

Share

And so Brighton makes a small but significant step on the centuries-long march from murderous stupidity to eventual sanity that is drugs policy across the Western world. The lovely seaside town, where one in four people have used drugs, could be the first in Britain to trial shooting galleries where addicts can safely consume illegal drugs without fear of prosecution. The aim is to shift the focus of addiction treatment from criminality to public health.

Such decriminalisation consumption rooms are widespread in Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Norway, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg, where they have had mixed results. That’s mixed as in varying from the highly effective to exceptionally effective. By taking addicts out of the shadows, away from the bridges and underpasses and station concourses where our monstrous drugs policy has long forced them, such galleries reduce harm not just to the addict, but to the society to whom he or she belongs.

And yet the overwhelming international evidence didn’t stop the following unforgivable inanity from South Coast rozzers. As the BBC reported: “Sussex Police welcomed the report but emphasised the importance of a ‘holistic approach’ to illegal drugs” In other words, we hope this helps, but we’re not holding our breaths… So is ceding control of the supply of drugs to organised crime syndicates still the way to go?

It’s important to outline just what suffocating short-sightedness this is. Imagine a “war” waged by successive British governments for 40 years, costing a billion pounds a month. Tens of thousands of casualties; the same number again locked up in jail each year; and the enemy is roughly half a million strong, and getting stronger by the minute. This, you would think, would be enough to warrant successive prime ministers being sacked, never mind home secretaries. Yet madly, because of foggy thinking and a shrieking press, successive governments have done more, not less, to compound our suffering, safe in the knowledge that it will help them get re-elected.

In fact, that fatuously labelled “war” has been waged, ever since the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act. The problem is not just that we’re losing it; it’s that there is not the remotest prospect of victory. Until we have the guts, as a country, to recognise the catastrophe of our drugs policy, and challenge the hysteria and immaturity that consigns millions of people to needless misery, innovations like that in Brighton will be welcome but small distractions, a bunch of needles in a giant, international haystack of our own making. And Sussex Police will go on trotting out nonsense, instead of making our country safer.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Administrator

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are a world leadin...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nick Clegg (R) Liberal Democrat Leader and former leader Charles Kennedy MP, joined the general election campaign trail on April 8, 2010  

Charles Kennedy: The only mainstream political leader who spoke sense

Tim Farron
 

The strangely parallel lives of Oliver Letwin and Ed Miliband

Matthew Norman
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral