Can the drugs problem be tackled primarily through legal enforcement

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Yes I think it is, even though the drugs and the use of drugs is more wide spread throughout county and national level than the general public wish to think and is just not related to Heroin, Cannabis and Ecstasy, there are other drugs, which the general public might not of heard of but are still used today.

Currently there are 3 bands of types of Drugs, which are banded into Class A, (The most notorious and dangerous drugs) Class B and Class C, (more commonly used prescription drugs) overall there are over 150 Class A Drugs, 20 Class B Drugs and 110 Class C Drugs.

Sampson (2004) states ‘The misuse of controlled drugs has become such a pervasive feature of Western society that it now affects almost every aspect of community life. As such, this subject is one of the most written about, argued about and legislated about in our criminal law. The impact of the misuse of drugs on crime and community safety has become so significant that it is also one of the most frequently encountered area of criminal law for police officers.’

“Throughout history people have taken drugs to alter their perceptions and change their moods. The attractions lie in the promise of instant pleasure and the possibility of heightened perceptions. Nietzsche said that no art could exist without intoxication and believed that a dream-like state was an essential precondition to superior vision and understanding” (Bragg 2002).

Drugs it has been noted have been around since 5000.B.C, when the Sumerians used opium for pleasure to enhance their state during “rejoicing” or “joyous times”, since then drugs have developed along with technology of the era, leading up to the current times, where there are a vast variety of drugs for the “recreational user” to the “dependent user”.

In British law, the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 was passed by The British Government to bring some “logical structure” for the Police to work from where offenders under this Act could be dealt with appropriately, outlining police powers and procedures. The Act created numerous offences relating to controlled drugs, i.e.

* Import and Export

* Supply of Articles

* Supply and Possession

* Possession with intent to supply and

* Use of premises, amongst others.

However, since this Act was incorporated, there have been numerous amendments under this heading; also some new Acts have been developed in connection with this Act, which “run along side” the Act of 1971. The New Act, Misuse of Drug Regulations 2001, which further outlines the governments’ directions and general requirements towards the use, supply, possession, manufacture and sales of drugs on the whole.

Drug Strategy Directorate (2002) states, the government has currently a National Drug Strategy in place to help people involved in drugs, which has been split into four areas, which are outlined below, and is also contained within CJIP (Criminal Justice Interventions Programme)

* Young People

To help young people resist drug misuse in order to achieve their full potential in society. Success for the Drug Strategy means preventing today’s young people from becoming tomorrow’s problematic drug users. All controlled drugs are dangerous and young people and their families need credible, realistic information to protect themselves from the risks and dangers of drug misuse. Education is already a central plank in the Government’s Drug Strategy and we will continue to expand and improve it. But drug misuse does not occur in isolation. It is associated with other problems such as the misuse of other substances (for example, alcohol and tobacco), youth offending, truancy and school exclusion, family problems and living in crime-ridden, deprived communities. So prevention programmes will be targeted at the most vulnerable young people and those who develop drug problems will be identified and supported early before problems escalate.

* Communities

To protect communities from drug-related anti-social and criminal behaviour. The cohesion and well being of local communities are vulnerable to the corrosive effects of drug misuse and the misery it causes. This impact ranges from the nuisance and anti-social behaviour associated with drug dealing and the activities of those under the influence of drugs.

Drug problems are most serious in those communities where social exclusion is acute, and where people lack the will or the resources to control or manage drug problems.

* Treatment

To enable people with drug problems to overcome them and live healthy crime-free lives.

Treatment works and is cost effective.

Treatment breaks the link between drug misuse and crime. For every �1 spent on treatment, �3 is saved in criminal justice costs.

Direct annual expenditure on drug treatment services, including within prisons, will rise from �503m this financial year (2003/04) to �573m from April 2005; (This includes mainstream spending, prison treatment and pooled budgets).

* Availability / Reducing Supply

To stifle the availability of illegal drugs on our streets, supply-side activity is a vital part of the overall Drug Strategy and complements efforts to reduce demand through education, treatment and harm minimisation. A co-ordinated multi-agency strategy to tackle drug supply at all stages of the supply chain – from the farmer growing the crop from which the drugs are made, through to the international trafficker and the street dealer in the UK – is already in place, and could have a significant impact on the supply of heroin and cocaine to the UK.

The enforcement of the above is intended to cover all classes of drugs, A, B, and C and also drugs not controlled through any of the classes mentioned, e.g. Ketamine, a non-barbiturate drug used on both animals and humans, which is increasingly being abused by an increasing number of young people as a “club-drug”, which is often distributed at “raves” and parties.

Primarily legal enforcement by the police is to detect all offences which are linked towards drugs, i.e. ‘trigger offences’, which are listed as the following.

* Theft,

* Robbery,

* Burglary,

* Aggravated Burglary

* Taking vehicle w/out owners consent

* Aggravated Vehicle Taking

* Obtaining property by Deception

* Going Equipped

* Production / Supply of Controlled Drugs

* Supply of Controlled Drug

* Possession of a Controlled Drug

* Possession with Intent to Supply

* Other Drug Misuse is suspected as a factor in the crime

Conventional enforcement methods may succeed in suppressing the “street level” activities – although less so in the most problematic inner city areas where only temporary relief from the street drugs activity may be obtained and that at the risk of alienating sections of the local community (Home Office, 1994).

As a result of policing methods changing and adapting to these changes there is a growing realisation that traditional enforcement methods are not always the answer for dealing with what is a very complex and demanding issue

The objectives in tackling drug misuse can be ranked in order of priority as follows

* Containment

* Reduction

* Elimination

It is overall national police priority to try and cut out the supply of drugs by operating numerous “outfits” simply tasked to follow the “Drug Traffickers” and try to contain and cut out there supply from National and International Sources, wherever this may be. Once this containment has been successfully “surgically removed” from the link then the hard task of the reduction in the import, supply and manufacture of drugs can continue.

Local forces can then concentrate on the “lower echelons” of the drug market, the large scale dealers and local traders who do all the work and are much harder to “surgically remove” from the chain. Once this has been completed then the final task of elimination can then take place by finally completing the “removal” of the last links of the chain, the users.

Derbyshire Constabulary, has set up a ‘Drug Market Response Team’, which has carried out analysis of 10 problematic drug markets across Derbyshire, which in turn provides focus for future enforcement operations within those markets, which encompasses the 4 key elements of the National Drug Strategy and is funded for a period of 3 years by Treasurers Invest to Save Fund, the analysis of the market has identified the routes of supply to the market, types of drug available, quality and price, identification of suppliers, couriers, users, areas of supply and market type, method of supply and availability, market attraction, finance and security, supplier and offender profiles and crime rates. Research links some of these markets together and intelligence shows that they influence at least 80% of the drugs problem(s) in Derbyshire. Heroin features strongly in 9 of the 10 markets. The Derby ecstasy market is based around a number of clubs and feeder pubs. (Holme, 2004).

The Home Office have recently carried out a ‘Case study’, which was piloted in nine sites across the UK and which was concluded in March 2004, of where they have systematically drug tested offenders, to see where / suspect drug misuse is a factor in the crime. (RDS, 2004).

The aims of the project are to set out provisions for the use of drug testing for specified Class A drugs for individuals aged 18 or over who have been charged / convicted of the above trigger offences. A person who has been charged with a trigger offence or of where a Class A drug is a factor in the crime, have been tested after being charged by the police. Probation testing is undertaken for those who have received one of the following:

* A request to submit a pre-sentence test;

* A drug abstinence order (DAO);

* A drug abstinence requirement (DAR) attached to a Community Rehabilitation Order, or

* As part of a condition of release from prison on licence, or young offender 9aged between 18 and 22) released under notice of supervision

The objectives of these drug testing powers are to reduce drug misuse and offending while under criminal justice supervision by identifying offenders who should be receiving treatment and monitoring their progress. This is based on the belief that drug testing will further encourage problematic drug users to enter treatment, thereby reducing their drug misuse and offending.

The results of this case study, as at 30th October 2003 show that 17,586 tests had been attempted on 11,846 people. Approximately a fifth of detainees were tested more than once. The most common offence being theft, accounting for almost two-thirds of all tests taken. See Annex A – Monitoring Data. (RDS, 2004).

In the wider sense of the term, virtually all offenders are being “forced” into one or both of the following treatments; but most offenders caught are recreational users who have unfortunately been caught out for having on them drugs for recreational use. These offenders if they have not offended before will be given the chance to attend a drug clinic to see an arrest referral worker, who then for around 30 – 60 minutes sits and talks to them about the consequences of using drugs and what effect continued use can have on their life; Afterwards the offender attending this clinic they are then given a deferred caution by the police and the drugs subsequently destroyed.

A repeat offender, who has to commit crime to feed their habit, will often be given a DTTO (Drug Testing and Treatment Order), which comprises of the court giving the offender a chance to ‘clean-up’ their act by attending drug clinics and seeing councillors who try and help the offender by systematically weaning them of the drug by attending regular ‘testing’ to check as to whether they are ‘cleaning up’ their life by not taking or attempting to take any more drugs.

Dobbs (2004, p.20) commented that the problems inevitably begin when you make a drug illegal, thus criminalising its sale and use, making multi-millionaires out of the criminal fraternity, which is murderous, extortionate and unregulated. By eliminating the criminal element in the supply chain, at the very least one will impact on the levels of crime, freeing up a large amount of valuable police time.

The Government in it’s policies recognises that legal enforcement is only one factor (one tool to use), and that increasingly police forces recognise the same, hence the attempts to do what we are doing, helping to point people towards treatment at the same time as arresting dealers of drugs.

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