Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Who will help me bring our girls home?

My argument for bringing drugs under effective legal control is not a libertarian one. I have never taken drugs and never intend to in the future. Nor do I wish for anyone else to take drugs. My argument comes from my experiences watching television documentaries, weeping as I witness the emotional pain presented, and wanting to do something to prevent such pain happening again. My empathy with the people I see perhaps comes from my own experiences witnessing my brother descend into psychosis three times in my teenage years and the effect this had on my family. While I have tried to find the answer to psychosis, and believe I have some ideas that may be very useful in improving treatment, I am perhaps too emotionally attached to the subject, and with my chronic fatigue, I fear the frustration of not being able to communicate those ideas effectively, and any rejection of those ideas. That is a fight I simply do not have the energy for.

The solution to psychosis is far from simple, which sets it apart from a problem I was presented with in harrowing manner by the Cutting Edge documentary "Killer in a Small Town". The film presents the stories of the young women who were murdered in the space of a month by Steve Wright in Ipswich in November and December of 2006 and one sequence particularly affected me. Three women that were reported to be prostitutes had been murdered in Ipswich in recent days and the police were asking the girls who worked the town's red-light district to stay at home. In an interview with an ITV News reporter when asked "Despite the dangers, why have you decided to come out tonight?" one of those young women replied "Because I need the money. I need the money." That young woman was 24-year-old heroin addict Paula Clennell, who was to become Steve Wright's 4th victim. As I watched this I was thinking "Just give her the drugs. Can the police not give her some drugs, just to keep her safe until the killer is caught?" But they couldn't do that. Heroin is illegal.

There are thought to be 80,000 prostitutes working in the UK. 93% of them are using illegal drugs. Studies suggest that two thirds of prostitutes are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder. You'll probably all have heard of PTSD in the context of soldiers coming back from the horrors of war, yet only 1 in 8 soldiers returning from Iraq meet the criteria for the diagnosis and the British deployment was never more than 45,000. Our soldiers have the comfort of knowing they fight for Queen and country, as our prostitutes are raped every night by our mistaken belief that they can just say no to drugs, or that prohibition works and everything will be ok if we just get tougher. As the bodies of our brave soldiers are flown back from Afghanistan there are growing calls to "Bring our boys home". Where are the marches asking for the government to bring our girls home?

For more of my views on drugs see I proposed a motion for the coming conference in the policy forum and my ideas on the effective control of drugs are presented there. I am currently trying to put together a fringe event at the coming conference with the working title of "Can bringing drugs under effective legal control improve our society, save billions and win votes?" and could do with some moral support, practical help, useful advice, whatever.



subrosa said...

Excellent post, complex subject. Good luck with your conference preparations.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. Just because the government decrees something illegal, doesn't make the market for it go away - it just creates a black market. Then the black market creates worse problems as it can keep prices artificially high, which then leads to crime.

"Since sellers cannot rely on police to protect their property, they arm themselves, form gangs, charge monopoly prices, and kill their competitors." Buyers then steal or prostitute themselves to afford the high prices.
"Alcohol prohibition in the 1920s gave America Al Capone and organized crime. Drug prohibition has given us South American and Asian cartels that finance terrorism. Prohibition's exorbitant black-market prices make that possible."
John Stossel "Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel -- Why Everything You Know is Wrong."