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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

I don't blame parents who move to get their child into a good school

Chris Blackhurst
William Hague, addresses delegates at the Conservative party conference for the last time in his political career in Birmingham  

It’s only natural for politicians like William Hague to end up as journalists

Simon Kelner
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference