Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Thinking outside of the box

Martin's recent post on policy Climate Change is backed up by the publication of a couple of the articles below. Whilst the pieces by serving and former police Tim Hollis (The Times) and Brian Paddick (Mail on Sunday) reveal a singularly stubborn commitment to the war on drugs by completely ignoring the obvious flaws inherent in prohibition, Allan Wall and Silver Donald Cameron present rational positions to suggest that it is the prohibition box itself that is the problem. It is well worth looking at the Hollis and Paddick op-eds to see how supporters of merely tweaking the status quo argue their position by not questioning the overarching regime of criminalisation. It is this unwillingness to think outside of the box that constrains their analysis to effectively rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

  • Brian Paddick
Three words that explain why the Rausings (and thousands of others involved in drugs) are getting away with it

"A billion pound fortune buys you many things, it seems, including, as we learned last week, immunity from prosecution for possessing crack, cocaine and heroin."

"First there are tip-offs. These bust big shipments and generate wonderful headlines but barely put a dent in supply. Second are operations against street dealers. They take weeks of police time and, within hours of dealers being taken off the street, others have replaced them.
What has been used, and must be used again, is co-ordinated action to take out entire supply chains from import to street dealer.

I’ve seen it succeed in North London in an operation involving the former National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS), the security services, the Met’s Drug Squad and local officers.
With the use of intelligence, undercover officers and street coppering, everyone from importer to street dealer can be identified and prosecuted."

  • Tim Hollis
Think tank: Fight smart in the war on drugs -A chief constable calls for a fresh strategy

"That’s why I’m in favour of what I call smarter enforcement – involving more intelligence, more research and more dialogue."

Positioning herself somewhere between these two sets of articles is Melanie Reid in the The Times who throws everything but the kitchen sink into the blender and sets it to turbo, without really coming up with a coherent solution, but at least asking some of the right questions:

  • Melanie Reid
Blame the rich for feeding the drug industry: The police will never be able to win the war against drugs. It's the culture of tolerance that is the real problem

"At what point do we start to look at legalisation as an exit strategy in a war we cannot win? Is it possible to turn drugs into a health rather than a crime issue? Or should we blame Britain's excess of tolerance for turning it into one of the most drug-blighted countries in Europe? As one leading expert, Neil McKeganey, of Glasgow University, puts it, at what point do we stop regarding illegal drug use as human right, and start seeing drugs as a destructive social cancer?

These are uncomfortable questions for both the Left and the Right but it is time we started asking them. We have to accept that this is no longer an argument about drug availability; this is about the existence of a drug culture that has spread to every corner of society. The poor old police can plug away at reducing supply until they are exhausted, but they cannot begin to address something that undermines them at every turn."

Family Security Matters , (that carries the Allan Wall piece) "is dedicated to men and women who are seeking answers to the most important question of our time: How to keep our families and our country safe and secure. Here you can find the vital information , the understanding and the solutions you need to conquer fear and combat the enemies who threaten our freedom!"

You wouldn't have expected to see this on their website:

  • Allan Wall
Exclusive: Searching for Paradigms and Parallels in Mexico’s Cartel War

"Maybe it’s time that our own leaders look the problem squarely in the eye, and ask if drug prohibition is really the right strategy after all.

The issue recalls another historical parallel – the American prohibition of alcohol from 1920-1933. During alcohol prohibition there were powerful gangsters, such as Al Capone and Bugs Moran, who distributed the prohibited substances, and fought with each other and with the U.S. government.

The argument for legalization is that at least it would take the big money out of the drug trade, and drug addicts could be treated as patients and not as criminals.

Legalization is not a perfect solution. The real solution is that people don’t abuse drugs. But whether you have prohibition, legalization, or something in between, it’s likely that there will always be drug abusers. The trick is to stop these addicts from dragging down the rest of our societies with them."

  • Silver Donald Cameron
'Dumb drug policies enrich criminals'

"In short, the law has essentially made itself irrelevant. If anything, the law benefits the business. To a large extent, the industry is profitable precisely because it is illegal. All entrepreneurs take risks, but if the risks include jail time, only the boldest entrepreneurs will enter the business — and they’ll demand a premium for the extra risk.

The net result of our irrational drug policies is that we enrich the criminals and criminalize ordinary citizens. We control tobacco and alcohol far more effectively than we control any illegal drugs. If those are the results we want, these policies are perfect."


Anonymous said...

"It is this unwillingness to think outside of the box that constrains their analysis to effectively rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic."

On the other hand it could be that their views do not accord with your ideology which you find unacceptable.

Steve Rolles said...

prohibition is a faith based policy - the very definition of an ideological position. The entire point being made here is that if the evidence is examined the position is exposed as ineffective and unsustainable. We are calling all the options to be explored. They refuse to cross certain lines in the sand, drawn by them, on a purely ideological rather than intellectual basis. I think you have this the wrong way around.

If you can demonstrate that prohibition is just and effective id be fine with it. It clearly isnt - so a debate on alternatives is necessary, and to deliberately avoid it criminally negligent.