#WarOnDrugs – Coming to an end (in the UK)?

Drug ImpactsArfon Jones’ the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, has recently (rightly) said; “other forms of justice are the way forward on drug crimes” but his stance resulted in (expected) angst from the media and some politicians…

Mr Jones said that many forces in the England and Wales were no longer choosing to prosecute for possession of drugs, and this amounted to a de-facto decriminalisation of the problem. (North Wales Live)

Jones has joined colleagues like Ron Hogg in Durham, who have realised; talking about the ‘problem’ is no longer sufficient. People are dying (see here) and connected violent crime continues (see here), or is getting worse (see here).

Simply talking about the issues, in politically biased sound-bites is no longer acceptable. These proactive individuals are leading the political charge, with required action, where our MPs have failed society. An increasing number of Commissioners and Police Chiefs across the UK are adopting a similar stance.

Jones was quoted as saying; “All drugs can be decriminalised now” and his belief is (IMO) correct, despite this view being vociferously argued against by some. Decriminalisation of drug use, in favour of a public-health focus on the issues, is a belief that is undoubtedly held by an ever increasing number of organisations and individuals.

It’s not a case that the police have got “soft on crime” or are’t interested, more that many have seen the evidence to support decriminalisation. That and the fact; many have also witnessed the futility of continually playing the War On Drugs game… no matter how good the police may be at catching the ‘criminals’ (see here), death and violence continues… at alarming rates.

“In England and Wales, what we’re going to be doing is diverting people away from criminal justice into other programmes like Checkpoint, like they’re doing in Durham and Avon and Somerset, Thames Valley.” (Afron Jones)

Public-health professionals, addiction treatment providers, service users, families with lived-experience, academics and many across the Criminal Justice System – in short all the ‘experts’ – understand the issues and the futility in the War On Drugs; so why don’t the politicians?

It’s probably something to do with that palpable (media lead) public condemnation of any individual caught up in anything to do with drugs. Politicians, hopefully (arguably) espouse the views of their electorate but society also has an inherent fear of anything related to drug use. This could possibly be justified if, that fear was born out of personal lived-experience but often it isn’t.

These entrenched socials belief about drug use – being wrong (ergo crime) – were mostly born in the age of prohibition in the late 1920’s. Much of the subsequent legislation about ‘misuse’ didn’t actually appear until the 1960’s (see here). A time when our society was fearful of the rising hedonism being displayed by Baby Boomers and Generation-X. Along with all the ‘rebellious’ youth culture, that was so clearly evident especially, but not exclusively for the first time, within the so-called Swinging Sixties.

Since then, our continued social fire has been stoked with legislation. Sadly, the flames of these punitive measures have been continuously and successfully fanned by individuals and organisations, with limited knowledge about drugs or the people that use them, never mind why. Either that or, there have been ulterior motives and agendas at play, to distort or manipulate fact. All of which has resulted in suppositions being made by people, who then arrive at a distorted view of the stark and often violent realities involved.

Despite all the evidence that supports a public health focus on drug use, or the success that it can deliver – as in Portugal – the politicians continue with more tired puerile sound-bite rhetoric – “tough on crime and the effects of crime” – when they’re asked to talk about drugs and addictions.

July 2019: Addiction, trafficking and incarceration cause enormous harm. The UK must learn from the countries that are trying to find solutions (The Guardian)

There is, and probably always will be, a great deal of politically and media motivated misinformation, along with individual misunderstanding around drugs, let alone any understanding about the correlation with associated crime. Which is why, as was highlighted in a recent news article; we maintain this “Moral Veneer” despite the prophetic observation of Al Capone back in the 1930’s… “Prohibition has made nothin’ but trouble.”

But still, despite all the evidence, even some of our “rigid and punitive treatment regimes” are failing to stem the record numbers of drug-related fatalities, in Scotland (see here) and elsewhere across England and Wales (see here), along with the remainder of the UK.

The time for media enthused political talking is over, people are dying and the associated violent crime is increasing. All because of the failed actions of a ‘social elite’ who choose to do little or nothing about the issues, or worse, they ignore them out of self-interest.

The secret to gaining a clearer understanding around all the issues involved is; don’t believe all you hear or read in the news, take what many politicians say with a pinch of salt and crucially, don’t get caught in the emotive social media spats, where know-it-all keyboard warriors continually bash out tripe, as part of their personal gratification behaviours.

No, if you really want to understand why the mostly binary and dogmatic arguments shouldn’t be all about hedonism and/or crime and, you don’t have that personal lived-experience to draw on, try asking somebody who does. Or at the very least, try listening to some of the people who are trying their damnedest, with limited resources and often decreasing funds, to support some of the most vulnerable people in our society!

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