Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Home Affairs Committee: New Cocaine Trade Inquiry

The UK Parliament's Home Affairs Committee is launching an inquiry into the cocaine trade - I have copied their press release below with the remit. 

We would have welcomed a wider ranging inquiry into drugs policy, but there is still plenty of scope for the Committee to review evidence about the devastating impact of prohibition, from the streets of the UK to those of Guinea Bissau and Colombia, and to explore alternatives. 

Transform gave evidence the last time they did a major drug inquiry, when David Cameron MP was a Committee member. The resulting report The Government's Drugs Policy: Is it Working? (2002)  included the recommendation:

24. We recommend that the Government initiates a discussion within the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of alternative ways—including the possibility of legalisation and regulation—to tackle the global drugs dilemma.

One of the areas the Committee will no doubt be looking into will be the Serious and Organised Crime Agency's recent claims to be winning the war on cocaine, which has been refuted by a couple of authors on this blog: "Clutching at Straws - SOCA Claims it is Winning the War on Cocaine"  and "How cocaine markets have been hit by the financial crises".

Home Affairs Committee News Release

Committee Office, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

Media Enquiries: Jessica Bridges Palmer 020 7219 0724 / 07917 488 447

Cocaine trade 

The Home Affairs Committee is today announcing the scope of its investigation into the  Cocaine Trade, The Committee intends to investigate the trends in cocaine use in the UK, and progress in tackling the cocaine trade, in terms of reducing both supply and demand in the UK. 

The inquiry will focus in particular on the following issues: 

  • whether cocaine powder is now a street drug rather than just one used recreationally by the relatively well-to-do
  • the influence of ‘celebrity cocaine culture’ as criticised in the UNODC’s critical report on the UK last year
  • The effectiveness of advertising campaigns in deterring use
  • Trends in the use of crack cocaine
  • International collaboration: the responses of the producer countries
  • International collaboration: the EU’s external borders
  • International collaboration: effects on the transit countries
  • SOCA’s role
  • HMRC’s role
  • The police response: possession and dealing

The Committee is seeking written submissions of no more than 2,500 words from interested parties, before it takes oral evidence on this inquiry. Organisations and individuals interested in making written submissions are invited to do so by Friday 12th June 2009. Further advice on making a submission can be found below. 

Oral evidence sessions will be held on Tuesdays in June and July: further announcements will be made in due course.


Written evidence should if possible be in Word or rich text format—not PDF format—and sent by e-mail to The use of colour and expensive-to-print material, e.g. photographs, should be avoided. The body of the e-mail must include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. The e-mail should also make clear who the submission is from.

Submissions must address the terms of reference. They should be in the format of a self-contained memorandum. Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference, and the document must include an executive summary. Further guidance on the submission of evidence can be found at

Submissions should be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere, though previously published work can be referred to in a submission and submitted as supplementary material. Once submitted, your submission becomes the property of the Committee and no public use should be made of it unless you have first obtained permission from the Clerk of the Committee.

Please bear in mind that the Committee is not able to investigate individual cases.

The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to publish the written evidence it receives, either by printing the evidence, publishing it on the internet or making it publicly available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure; the Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.

For data protection purposes, it would be helpful if individuals wishing to submit written evidence send their contact details in a covering letter or e-mail. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

The remit of the Home Affairs Committee is to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Home Office and its associated public bodies. 

Session 2008–09/57                                                                     21 May 2009

Notes to editors:

The Committee membership is as follows:


Rt Hon Keith Vaz (Chairman) (Lab) (Leicester East)

Tom Brake  (Lib Dem) (Carshalton & Wallington)              Margaret Moran (Lab) (Luton South)

Ms Karen Buck (Lab) (Regent’s Park & Kensington North)  Mr Gwyn Prosser (Lab) (Dover)

Mr James Clappison (Con) (Hertsmere)                         Bob Russell (Lib Dem) (Colchester)

Mrs Ann Cryer (Lab) (Keighley)                                    Martin Salter (Lab) (Reading West)

Mr David T. C. Davies (Con) (Monmouth)                      Mr Gary Streeter (Con) (South West Devon)

Mrs Janet Dean (Lab) (Burton)                                    Mr David Winnick (Lab) (Walsall North)

Patrick Mercer (Con) (Newark)


Media Enquiries: Jessica Bridges Palmer, Tel 020 7219 0724, email: 

Specific Committee Information:  Tel 020 7219 3276, email:

Committee Website:

Watch committees and parliamentary debates online:

Publications / Reports / Reference Material: 

Copies of all select committee reports are available from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge St, Westminster, 020 7219 3890) or the Stationery Office (0845 7023474). Committee reports, press releases, evidence transcripts, Bills; research papers, a directory of MPs, plus Hansard (from 8am daily) and much more, can be found on

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