Tuesday, August 17, 2010

In the news...

An unusual defence of duress? Expect the usual "Loophole Lawyer" shenanigans from this story. While I have sympathy with anyone whose domestic pet is trapped beneath the floorboards, who on earth drives an eighty grand poor person squasher, but doesn't have a screwdriver at home?

Drug prohibition doesn't work, and never has. Another person has bravely spoken out as he leaves one of the few positions where he may have been able to actually do something about it.


  1. "PC Denniss told the court he initially decided to pull Swann over because he was driving a high-performance car in an area where there had been a spate of burglaries."

    Is that a lawful stop?

    In my book that should be case dismissed right there. There is no allegation he was driving badly or was otherwise liable to be stopped, surely?

  2. It's slightly different with stopping cars Ben. You can stop any car , any time to examine the driver's driving license.

    However I agree that the PC should have added , " where high performance cars had been stolen at night".

  3. You say "Drug prohibition doesn't work and never has" what is your alternative. The learned Professor says legalise it. So in effect we as a country are saying well if we aren't successful prohibiting it lets just legalise it. This argument means that if we can't stop burglars or robbers then we legalise it. We haven't been able to stop cancer so perhaps we should legalise it? I am not being over simplistic but you cannot cherry pick. The problem with drugs enforcement is lack of money and willingness of government and society to stand up to it.

  4. Ed (not Bystander)August 18, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    mcmrjp, with all the respect I can simulate, you are oversimplifying. Banning drugs has made them sexy and desirable to young, foolish people (cf the chapter on "scarcity" in Cialdini's "Influence"). Has banning them worked? Or has drug use sky-rocketed since the ban? Please compare the drug prohibition with alcohol prohibition, another enormous policy success. Please answer those before further "contributing". The world is holding its breath.

  5. mcmrjp - addictive substances are slightly different to crimes of violence. It may also be the case that legalising drugs leads to lower levels of other crimes. If you take an entirely unscientific approach, and sit in the back of my court and listen to the pleas in mitigation that are made, many will make mention of addictions.

    There is no justification for alcohol and tobacco to be legal and taxed, and for objectively less harmful substances to be illegal. It is a pretend moral issue. If you're against "drugs", I presume you are a teetotal non-smoker?

    The problem with drug enforcement is not money and willingness, it is that it simply doesn't work. Prohibition of alcohol is a wonderful demonstration of the correct approach to take. Suddenly booze was extra glamorous, speak-easy bars sprung up overnight, and the crims made vast amounts of money bootlegging. If legalisation were ever seriously discussed, the only losers would be criminals.

    Oh, and as far as I am aware, getting cancer isn't illegal.

  6. Legalising drugs would not reduce their use or affect crime. Their is still a high rate of offending amongst methadone users. Anon if you look at the previous of those defendants you speak how many were criminals before starting to use drugs? In my experience few criminals would return to an honest life if their drugs were freely available. It is a known fact that legalise scripts for Methadone account for more deaths than the actual drugs. Perhaps we should think what society would be like with legalised drugs. Drugs are a lazy persons opt out of society and responsibility. There are many instances of freely available "intoxicants" promoting higher use.

    I am all for looking at new ways of dealing with crime but let us not be deceived into think legalising is the panacea.

  7. Just a quick mention of Graeme Swann's floor boards. Maybe his house is different to mine, but in my house the floor boards are attached using nails... I can't imagine how long it would take to screw in say four screws for each and every floor board.

    Turning to the drugs, I am inclined to agree with the prosecutor and say that legalisation is probably the simplest thing that the government could do to reduce domestic crime. Many drugs users become hooked and are then exploited by their dealers who control the supply of the chosen substance. If the drugs were legally available then this would no longer be possible. Plus, it would become difficult for domestic criminal gangs to raise funds selling expensive drugs when they are available legally much cheaper. I suppose they could branch out more into selling guns to make ends meet?

    The real problem I see with legalising drugs is obtaining the stuff to sell. Would the Government want to deal with Columbian drug gangs to buy cocaine? Or with Afgan poppy growers and risk the Taliban seizing the money? Unless, the Government could provide a safe and reliable system of obtaining drugs, which are often illegal where they are produced, then the UK government could end up as one of the biggest funders of international crime and terrorism in the world!

    But, in principal I am in favour of legalisation, it's just those damn practicalities that worry me.

  8. mcmrjp
    Legalise it and you can provide clean needles, drugs that haven't been cut with even more dangerous substances. You won't have children trafficked into the UK to tend cannabis farms. You won't have millions of pounds going to organised crime.
    I imagine that most people who take drugs, can afford to. Drugs are cheap.
    What about ecstasy, mcat, and other party drugs? I don't see the people who take them as criminals. I drink in moderation, and have never smoked or taken drugs. I'm totally against them, but believe that crime involves harming others. Self-harm is not the concern of law enforcement.

  9. mcmrjp -- "What would society be like with legalised drugs?" Did you read the bit about alcohol and tobacco? We'd have some people who go over the top and destroy their lives with it, we'd have legislation to protect us from impaired motor skills (i.e. drug drive legislation), and we'd have no more budget deficit. For what reason do you distinguish between one addictive, harmful, legal substance (tobacco), and a less addictive, less harmful, illegal substance (cannabis or MDMA)?

    Phatboy, I did think a crowbar would be more appropriate. As for our own supply of drugs, I'm sure you're well aware that growing pot requires nothing more than a little bit of (stolen) electricity and some basic gardening equipment. Once global warming makes our climate more like California's, we can start growing it outside. Heroin comes from poppies, which grow pretty freely in our existing climate.

    Any budding chemists out there care to enlighten me on whether cocaine can be synthesised, or whether the coca leaves are essential?

    LSD, MDMA etc all lab products. This could solve my cashflow problems...or maybe not...

  10. The way to cope with drug addicts is to decriminalise possession of officially-sanctioned supplies of illegal drugs, but keep unofficial variants of the drug illegal.

    So, imagine a drug user Fred decides that his heroin habit is getting a bit much. He goes to his doctor, and registers as an addict, and receives regular small supply of heroin (or a substitute synthetic) for his own use, in single-use pre-packaged syringes which are serial numbered and otherwise labelled so that they can be traced, to preclude his selling them on for profit. Fred is now a happy little addict since he can enjoy his drug of choice for nothing, and also take a long-acting maintenence drug which prevents him feeling withdrawl symptoms.

    Fred's dealer Joe, by contrast, is not a happy bunny. All of a sudden his customers aren't coming by anymore, because the Government is giving them their fix. Worse, the police don't have to spend their time running about after Fred and his manky mates anymore, and are now at something of a loss for something to do. Car drivers now live in fear and obey all laws instinctively, but the police are still at a loose end and would dearly love to catch an unauthorised drug dealer, however small-time he might be. Worse yet, Joe bought his illegal drugs on tick and owes money to a lot of extremely unpleasant and impatient people who are even nastier to deal with than the police are. All in all, Joe has found that the world is a very unfriendly place for a drug dealer of late, and would dearly love to get out of the business entirely; it isn't as if he's making any money out of it, after all...

  11. "Heroin comes from poppies, which grow pretty freely in our existing climate."

    I knew it came from poppies... I did not know that the Afgan and UK poppies were the same things. If that is the case (which I now know it is), why do dealers bother importing when they could just buy a ton of poppy seeds from a farmer under the cover of a bread making business?

  12. A bit off-topic, but an anti-scam forum I'm on has had a long running topic about a hydroponic equipment supplier. Not a scam, but very poor customer service.
    It's not our concern, but we don't think the customers are growing tomatoes. And neither does Google Ads. Yesterday it served up an advert for a drug treatment program.

  13. I would prefer to decriminalise all drug taking and make recognised drugs of known purity available over the counter. They could be taxed like alcohol, and with careful pricing would put the street dealers out of business. More to the point, it would also stop people saying "but the government should have banned it if it was dangerous" and "if it had been banned our dear offspring wouldn't have taken it", as has happened in a number of cases recently. At least the government could say words to the effect that "if the idiot wants to eat fertiliser and thinks it won't harm him, that's his decision"!

  14. There is no magic soloution to the drug problem. Like booze people want it and they will get it- by hook or by crook. The Yanks tried prohibition and look what happened there, organised crime ran amock. It might be distatsteful to some in the political classes, but as we know politicians rarely havre a grasp of life as it really is lived. At the moment the arrest and criminalisation of people for USE of drugs is a complete waste of scarce police and court resources. The forces of good should be after the burglars , fraudsters and rapiusts who do far more damage to our society rather than running around after people who are having a spliff or popping an "E".
    There never will be a perfect soloution but the sooner we take a leaf out of what the Portugese have done the better- concentrate on the pushers not the users.

  15. hi sorry for the blatent plug but I've just decided to start writing my own blog and will no doubt be covering topics like this when I get going properly.

    http://defencebrief.blogspot.com/ if you fancy it - only an intro post at the moment, but I'll add more.

    Nick (formally Phatboy).

  16. Anonymous, where have you gone? I need a voice of sanity in the world of CPS madness.

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