Tuesday, May 06, 2008

SOCA, Organising crime

It was brought to my attention recently that the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) has, ostensibly at least, a remit essentially based upon harm reduction.

The following is from the ‘About us’ section of the SOCA website:

“SOCA is an intelligence-led agency with law enforcement powers and harm reduction responsibilities. Harm in this context is the damage caused to people and communities by serious organised crime.”

Now, according to the State of the Future survey by the World Federation of United Nations Associations, 2007, the drug trade is the second biggest earner for organised crime, with an estimated $320bn in annual takings.

In 2003 the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit produced a report that showed how supply side enforcement of the drug laws gifts the trade to organised crime.

Again, according to the SOCA website:

“The SOCA Board has determined that SOCA should aim to apportion its operational effort broadly as follows against the main threat sectors:

  • drugs trafficking, primarily Class A - 40%...”

So, if SOCA is genuinely intelligence-led, the main thrust of 40% of its operational effort against drug trafficking ought to be in explaining to policy makers that prohibition creates huge opportunities for organised crime and that it should be stopped forthwith and replaced with a legal distribution network for currently illegal drugs.

My guess is that it isn’t doing that; that SOCA is colluding with prohibition’s supporters in what amounts effectively to a ‘protection racket’; not reducing harm, but actually supporting its increase to create a raison d’etre for itself.

I leave it to you to decide if that is intelligent or not…

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I believe your final comments really get to the nub of why drug prohibition is so persistent, even though it has failed in its own terms.

Those agencies involved in 'solving' the drug problem actually give rise to a range of harms far greater than the original problem, thus creating the justification for their own survival and growth over time.

In this way we can see that far from being a failure, the war on drugs, or more accurately, the war on drug users is actually a success for government officials and quasi governmental agencies.

One might also add that the 'war' succeeds for organised crime too, although this in itself is purely incidental to the prohibtion equation.

Of course the major losers are taxpayers, drug users and drug crime victims; some people will fall into all three groups!