"Sean is 15. He earns £100,000 a year from drug dealing, carries a knife, flaunts a machine gun - and sneers at the law."
"Sitting on his BMX bike, heavy gold jewellery dripping from his neck and wrists, the boy from one of Manchester's most notorious estates has already achieved the ambition of thousands of his teenage peers... Sean is a somebody. And on these drug-scarred streets, everybody wants to be a somebody."
"Notwithstanding his age and high-pitched voice, Sean, a shrewd, street-smart little character, controls one carefully marked-out area of the estate: rival dealers cross the boundary at their peril. Yet he still blows all his cache each week on clothes, gambling, cannabis and drink. (He once lost £1,300 on gambling in a day.) "
"He demonstrates how the blade should hit the area between the top of the thigh and the buttock, cutting the hamstring and leaving the victim writhing on the ground in agony. If that doesn't work, Sean can get his hands on a gun "in minutes". He shows me pictures on his mobile phone of him and his friends playing with pistols, sawn-off shotguns and sub-machine guns."
"Gangs like this, living off welfare and crime, were said in a recent academic report to be costing taxpayers an estimated £1 billion a year. "
"Witnesses seldom come forward. In more than 150 gun-related crimes on [the police's] books, not a single person has admitted to seeing anything."
"Professor Gus John, a noted race relations expert, revealed how a woman he knew was raped by her son, who had become addicted to crack cocaine. 'He demanded money for drugs,' said Prof John. 'Then he raped her violently and left her a complete mess'."
It's undeniable that this is a pretty dire and fucked up state of affairs. It's also pretty obvious to me that the main bulk of crime, especially inner city crime committed by teenagers, is funded and fuelled by drugs and perpetuated by violence and the pursuit of status, street fame or, like the article says, the desire to be someone. I doubt that there is an easy way to stop the moral stagnation of impressionable young people from deprived sink estates but surely a good start would be to take away their ability to earn £100,000 per year and then plough it all back into the criminal underworld. Drugs are a multi billion pound industry and leaving it in the hands of violent gangsters isn't responsible, sensible or safe. More so than this article, personal experience tells me that the government is losing the war on drugs. Drastic action is needed to deal with the problem, that action should be to legalise all drugs. Not just cannabis, or so called soft drugs, but all drugs.
At least if drugs were legalised there could be some degree of regulation involved. Once drugs are no longer distributed by gangsters, they could be controlled by a responsible governing body. They could be manufactured much more cleanly and safely with purity in mind, and before, during and after being supplied they could be accompanied by full and accurate information regarding the dangers involved in their use.
Where is the education now? What education there is is contradictory at best. Children, especially those from deprived backgrounds and poorer inner city areas are, from a young age being educated quite comprehensively about drugs. Unfortunately this education is coming mostly from the wrong sources; their equally uninformed peers, casual drug users and just the general information picked up from their living environment. They may get the old, "Drugs are bad, mmmmkay?" from teachers and so forth but then they read magazines and watch TV only to see the likes of Pete Doherty, Kate Moss and even Graham Norton making drugs look glamorous and cool. Depending on where they live they may even go out to play and see that the only people on their estate who have a car worth more than a couple of grand are the ones who they later find out to be the local drug dealers.
If heroin addicts were allowed to obtain their fix legally, by prescription, to be used under the supervision of medical professionals it would be safer all round. For the addicts themselves and for the victims of the crimes those addicts commit to fund their habits; the old ladies being mugged, the homeowners being burgled. Hopefully, over time, with a proper education system in place and with addiction being treated like a disease and addicts being treated like out patients, the allure of drugs perpetuated by the likes of everyone from Janis Joplin and Hendrix to Doherty and Kate Moss, would start to diminish. For those who still wished to poison themselves with those substances, they would be able to do so quietly and unobtrusively without hurting others. With the money that would be saved by not having to combat drug crime society could afford to subsidise the lifestyles of those few who, for whatever reason, chose to live their lives sick and unhealthy in the grip of heroin addiction.
As for other drugs, so called recreational drugs such as cannabis, ecstasy, amphetamines, cocaine etc again, education is the key. Everyone remembers the case of Leah Betts, the first 'famous' ecstasy fatality. It has become well known that young children nowadays are wont to experiment with drugs. Many have grown up in a society where drugs use is as prevalent and normal as smoking and drinking. Instead of children and young teens being forced to enter the criminal underworld at a young age and mix with violent criminals, to purchase impure drugs in a dangerous environment with no real knowledge of the substances they are taking, surely it would be better to tax the drugs, regulate their use and provide real, truthful information on drugs; not just the lows of drugs, but the highs also. Of course this still involves people taking drugs, which isn't ideal, but it is the only way.
Alcohol is legal and it is a very dangerous and harmful substance. It would probably be better for everyone if it didn't exist. It does exist though and despite its harmful properties it is probably better that while it does exist it remains legal and regulated. This doesn't stop it doing damage but if the manufacture, sale and distribution of alcohol was suddenly to be handled by the people who are currently in control of the drugs trade, it would undoubtedly lead to more violence, more deaths and more misuse. Drugs are, for the most part, as easily accessible as alcohol and the same theory applies. Whilst there is a supply and demand for drugs it simply cannot make sense to leave the supply in the hands of lawless and violent gangsters.
Surely, education is better than no education. Purity better than impurity, safety in purchasing better than danger, a clinical image better than a glamorous, exciting image. The only way to combat drugs is to take away the guns and violence, take away the mystique and take away the ignorance. This won't make the problem go away but it will, over time, make the problem better.
This could probably have been summed up in a few short words: It's a fucking no brainer. You can't let murderers run one of the most lucrative businesses in the world.