The new Home Secretary has defiantly stated that she wants criminals “to literally feel terror at the thought of committing offences”. 20,000 new police officers have been promised, new powers have been granted and sentences are being reviewed; all steps in the right direction. But will drugs be dealt with as stringently as other crimes?
If the Home Secretary is truly serious about dealing with crime, then drug abuse is a fine place to start. Use breeds criminal behaviour, funds criminal operations, and eats away at the fabric of society (which, when firm and intact, prevents the spread of criminality). Children who once got a good start in life are now increasingly taking drugs, falling into bad crowds and suffering from poor mental health as a result. It is the lax approach taken by governments over several decades that has killed countless people and funded the most deranged elements of the criminal underworld.
Drug users don’t just harm themselves; drug money funds even more serious activities such as human trafficking and sex slavery, and fuels the deadly gang wars which grease the wheels of the drug industry. Those who think it cool to take drugs become unwitting financiers for some of the worst acts committed across the globe.
More concerning than the flagrant disregard of the law by the citizen is the willingness for the state to turn a blind eye to, or worse, encourage, drug use. Many of our judicial institutions have essentially de-criminalised drugs. Now people are left to consume whatever they desire whenever they want – if they even know what it is that they are consuming. Possession and use of drugs are now treated as a health condition rather than a crime. So of course people will respond by taking drugs in greater numbers.
Nevertheless, how can we blame these people? In recent times the government has used taxpayer money to create the website FRANK which teaches people how to “use drugs safely” (as if that is something that can be done). What is more concerning is the handing out of such material in schools. The government just accepts it as a fact that people will take drugs rather than trying to prevent extremely harmful behaviour. Drugs are made attractive; a prime example is the tents to test drugs which are commonplace at festivals where swathes of young people pop pills, drop acid and snort lines. Drugs are hip and trendy while personal responsibility and order are out of fashion.
The statistics speak for themselves. 1 in 5 people between the age of 16 – 24 have taken drugs in the last year and it is likely that this number is higher. It is unlikely, regardless of how cool mass media has made drug use, that most young people would openly admit to their personal use. But anyone who has been through university in the past few years will know just how many of their peers have taken drugs – I dare say the majority of students.
Instead of facing up to this growing crisis, politicians carry the banner of legalisation. Meanwhile, the state hands out drugs to treat drug users, psychiatric wards fill to the brim and all vestiges of morality fade. We can only hope that this new Home Secretary can back up her bold words with some bold action.