Volteface Article: Why is British Drug Policy so Disjointed?


A long read but worth your time Here is the introduction In early January, as the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced a tentative degree of policy experimentation by piloting, in three boroughs, a diversion scheme whereby young people in possession of small amounts of cannabis would be offered counselling and support instead of arrest, the Metropolitan Police were out in Shoreditch conducting their own diversion scheme, swabbing revellers to deflect attention from the relentless failures of Britain’s drug war. The latter were rightly ridiculed: rather than keeping people safe, such high-profile Potemkin PR stunts represent little more than disposable social media fodder. But they can be extremely damaging, insulting the intelligence of a drug-literate and increasingly prohibition-sceptical public, exacerbating the harms caused by unduly aggressive, partial and discriminatory policing in an unwinnable war with decaying legitimacy, and diverting resources from the very real threats to people’s substantive security which require serious, long-term investments in community-based policing, economic development and social programming. These are precisely the things that have been jettisoned since the dawn of austerity a decade ago, whereupon poverty rates, homelessness, drug-related deaths, gang activity, county lines exploitation and knife violence have ballooned and Britain has found itself dealing (or, rather, not dealing) with the fallout of a sustained process of un-development. Conflicted Policy How can two arms of the state, which are operating in the same spaces, pursue divergent approaches to essentially the same problem? Perhaps they are not actually that distinct, since both rest firmly within the boundaries of prohibitionism: despite some overly optimistic pronouncements predicated on hopeful misunderstandings of the important distinctions between diversion, depenalisation, decriminalisation and legalisation, Khan’s experiment, like all incremental reform, falls well short of substantive change. But the intended direction of travel is obviously very different: the Mayor’s tinkering may be timid, but it is unquestionably predicated on harm reduction principles and carries enormously positive consequences for those that do benefit from it, in the sense of not being arrested, criminalised,…

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Source : Volteface Article: Why is British Drug Policy so Disjointed?

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