In the classic late 60s heist film The Italian Job, the gang decide they need a computer expert on board, and that their man is Professor Peach. Then, Camp Freddie asks head man Mr Bridger “What if the Professor’s not bent?”
Mr Bridger has no doubts: “Camp Freddie, everybody in the world is bent”. It was good fun back then, but the same principle was brought into sharp focus yesterday evening in the C4 documentary Our Drugs War (available on 4OD right now), as a former smuggler told how he had bought off dock workers, customs officers and anyone else that might have stopped his contraband getting through.
Nothing in the programme was new or surprising: the discovery once more that the police and other authorities are having little effect on the importing, distribution and supply of illegal substances, the debasing of those substances by organised criminality rendering them genuinely dangerous, and the frequent recourse to legally available drugs which are potentially far more lethal than the illegal ones.
Some of the “legal highs” included alloy wheel cleaner (since banned) and plant feeder (still legal). The police effectively admitted that they are nowhere near the target of taking 60 to 70 per cent of illegal drugs off the streets, with the actual success rate reckoned to be more like 1%. And, all the while, the factors that drive folks into dependency are not addressed.
Meanwhile, the elephant in the room is hardly discussed: the fact that we cannot even have the debate about the business of currently illegal drugs without the most righteous part of the Fourth Estate howling it all down. Zelo Street has pored over the issue at some length (HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE for starters, with follow ups HERE, HERE and HERE), but if we cannot have a rather wider rational and grown up debate on the subject, we will get nowhere.
The UK is expending a billion and a half quid each year supposedly keeping us all safe from the drugs which, for many, are no more than a few minutes’ walk away, and by all accounts cheaper than ever, which suggests that there is no problem with their supply. The situation is plainly ridiculous.
We need to deal sensibly with this issue – and we need to do it right now.