Swindon AdvertiserTown shows the way in drugs fight (From Swindon Advertiser)

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Town shows the way in drugs fight

Swindon Advertiser: PC Paul Saunders, Professor Harry Sumnall, doctor Charlotte Kelly, doctor Steven Haigh and doctor Russell Newcombe at the recent legal highs seminar PC Paul Saunders, Professor Harry Sumnall, doctor Charlotte Kelly, doctor Steven Haigh and doctor Russell Newcombe at the recent legal highs seminar

WILTSHIRE police and other agencies in Swindon say they are leading the way in the fightback against so-called legal highs.

The Adver told yesterday how the heartbroken family of Danny Davies, a user whose death remains a mystery after he collapsed in the street, want more done to stop the supply of the potentially deadly substances.

A pathologist is establishing how the 45-year-old died but his partner Sarah Sherwood, from Pinehurst, said his life had been destroyed after the father of her four children began taking chemicals, including Eric 3.

Insp Paul Saunders, Partnership Inspector for Swindon, said: “The recent experiences in Swindon have led to education initiatives for drug users through the drug treatment services, training for front-line staff in both police and council roles on the current trends in legal highs and how to help, support and guide those who have been caught up in the cycle of drug use.

“Indeed, the learning from the Swindon experience has been shared at a recent seminar, which was attended by professionals from Trading Standards, police, the National Treatment Agency, drug treatment specialists from across the whole of the south west region and as far as the south east.

“The seminar had the express purpose of educating those who deliver support services of the dangers, trends and implications of legal high usage “But it also offered potential solutions in the form of closer partnership working and sharing of information of potentially dangerous substances.”

Insp Saunders said Wiltshire Police would take action where legal highs already contained banned substances and would take steps to have others outlawed.

Wiltshire Police previously joined other forces, Swindon Council, Great Western Hospital and drug services to put forward evidence which led to methoxetamine being banned.

Insp Saunders said: “The subject of legal highs is a topical and emotive one and Wiltshire Police are committed to working with partners agencies from Swindon Borough Council, Great Western Hospital and drug treatment services to educate and inform people about the dangers associated with these substances. “We will reiterate the statement that legal does not always mean legal, and legal does not mean safe. As with controlled substances these are unlicensed, unregulated and potentially dangerous.”

Swindon charity Delivering Health And Independence is one of the agencies which took part. Team leader Mike Strathdee said: “We have worked closely with the police, doctors at Great Western Hospital and other agencies in order to ensure that information regarding potentially lethal substances is regularly exchanged so that treatment methods can be adapted according to current needs.

“The recent legal highs seminar is indicative of a cross-agency commitment to deal with this issue and to ensure that best practice, information and support is offered to all who are or are likely to be affected by using legal highs.”

l To access drug treatment services in Swindon call DHI on 01793 617177

Comments (10)

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10:35am Wed 16 Jan 13

benzss says...

One day these people will see past their own noses.

Look, the history of drug use is a history of prohibition. Opium is prohibited, heroin abounds. Cocaine is prohibited, crack abounds. Restrict relatively harmless drugs like MDMA, THC and opium, and you get big problems with meth, crack and heroin. And the legal highs? Black market derivatives of existing drugs, completely unregulated, either by the open market or an authority, which always remain ahead of the legal curve.

Prohibiting them or trying to stop the supply of drugs in general is equivalent to urinating into a stiff breeze. Paradoxically, more police activity pushing drug use into the black market causes more deaths from feuding gangs, desperate addicts and overdoses (usually from over-purity). The only sensible policy is to reduce the harm; that is, to legalise and regulate.
One day these people will see past their own noses. Look, the history of drug use is a history of prohibition. Opium is prohibited, heroin abounds. Cocaine is prohibited, crack abounds. Restrict relatively harmless drugs like MDMA, THC and opium, and you get big problems with meth, crack and heroin. And the legal highs? Black market derivatives of existing drugs, completely unregulated, either by the open market or an authority, which always remain ahead of the legal curve. Prohibiting them or trying to stop the supply of drugs in general is equivalent to urinating into a stiff breeze. Paradoxically, more police activity pushing drug use into the black market causes more deaths from feuding gangs, desperate addicts and overdoses (usually from over-purity). The only sensible policy is to reduce the harm; that is, to legalise and regulate. benzss
  • Score: 0

11:40am Wed 16 Jan 13

Tim Newroman says...

Meanwhile, a House of Lords all-party parliamentary group on drug policy reform, chaired by the crossbench peer, Baroness Meacher, published their report into Legal Highs earlier this week and told the government it would be far more effective to ask trading standards officers to test and regulate the supply of low-risk legal highs to be legally sold in licensed shops.

The genie is out of the bottle with Legal Highs, chemistry means that there are an infinite number that can be created - cheaply and easily.
Meanwhile, a House of Lords all-party parliamentary group on drug policy reform, chaired by the crossbench peer, Baroness Meacher, published their report into Legal Highs earlier this week and told the government it would be far more effective to ask trading standards officers to test and regulate the supply of low-risk legal highs to be legally sold in licensed shops. [p] The genie is out of the bottle with Legal Highs, chemistry means that there are an infinite number that can be created - cheaply and easily. Tim Newroman
  • Score: 0

5:59pm Wed 16 Jan 13

LordAshOfTheBrake says...

One could also argue that the deterrent is not strong enough and therefore the only thing to do to ensure it is is to make all dealers punishable with capital punishment (removing completely the ability to re-offend).

There are enough crimes already that are blamed on drug addictions; do you seriously think that is going to reduce by making them cheaper and more widely available through legalisation.

Do you seriously think we'll see less addictions by making them more widely available and cheaper?

We also have significant crime through alcohol abuse which is legal; so that would suggest legalisation isn't going to stop that problem.
One could also argue that the deterrent is not strong enough and therefore the only thing to do to ensure it is is to make all dealers punishable with capital punishment (removing completely the ability to re-offend). There are enough crimes already that are blamed on drug addictions; do you seriously think that is going to reduce by making them cheaper and more widely available through legalisation. Do you seriously think we'll see less addictions by making them more widely available and cheaper? We also have significant crime through alcohol abuse which is legal; so that would suggest legalisation isn't going to stop that problem. LordAshOfTheBrake
  • Score: 0

8:13am Thu 17 Jan 13

house on the hill says...

Just sad that people need to take them in the first place. The real world has so much to offer, I have never understod why so many have this need to live in their "fake drug induced" world, but then each to their own.
Drugs of all types are so common nowadays, banning one will just increase the use of another so just another expensive waste of time, but makes a good headline.
Just sad that people need to take them in the first place. The real world has so much to offer, I have never understod why so many have this need to live in their "fake drug induced" world, but then each to their own. Drugs of all types are so common nowadays, banning one will just increase the use of another so just another expensive waste of time, but makes a good headline. house on the hill
  • Score: 0

8:30am Thu 17 Jan 13

Tim Newroman says...

house on the hill wrote:
Just sad that people need to take them in the first place. The real world has so much to offer, I have never understod why so many have this need to live in their "fake drug induced" world, but then each to their own.
Drugs of all types are so common nowadays, banning one will just increase the use of another so just another expensive waste of time, but makes a good headline.
Sugar, caffeine... the most widely used drugs in the world - and two of the most addictive.
[quote][p][bold]house on the hill[/bold] wrote: Just sad that people need to take them in the first place. The real world has so much to offer, I have never understod why so many have this need to live in their "fake drug induced" world, but then each to their own. Drugs of all types are so common nowadays, banning one will just increase the use of another so just another expensive waste of time, but makes a good headline.[/p][/quote]Sugar, caffeine... the most widely used drugs in the world - and two of the most addictive. Tim Newroman
  • Score: 0

10:44am Thu 17 Jan 13

benzss says...

LordAshOfTheBrake wrote:
One could also argue that the deterrent is not strong enough and therefore the only thing to do to ensure it is is to make all dealers punishable with capital punishment (removing completely the ability to re-offend). There are enough crimes already that are blamed on drug addictions; do you seriously think that is going to reduce by making them cheaper and more widely available through legalisation. Do you seriously think we'll see less addictions by making them more widely available and cheaper? We also have significant crime through alcohol abuse which is legal; so that would suggest legalisation isn't going to stop that problem.
One could argue further that the punishment would hardly fit the crime in that instance. I would argue very strongly that it is nobody's business what a person does with their own body, but i suppose the bigoted little Englanders in the comments sections on this site would disagree...

In any case, let's consider this. The apparent (I say 'apparent' because it is rarely stated) aim of the 'war on drugs' is to reduce harm. Any kind of harm, that is, so anything from overdoses to burglaries which may or may not result from drug use. The fallacy that you, and quite a few of the people in authority, subscribe to is the idea that reducing supply will somehow reduce harm, without any consideration for other options or problems. There is no consideration of basic economics; if you push something into the black market, it is impossible to control, information flows less freely (hence overdoses), and, frankly, the criminals have majority control.

Take Portugal, for instance, which decriminalised drugs a few years ago. This has had a positive effect on crime rates AND on numbers of addicts (i.e. fewer addicts, and more seeking treatment). This is surely better than the UK's billions and billions of £ spent urinating into the aforementioned stiff breeze. You could take it even further. It stands to reason that if a relatively inelastic commodity is in the black market, the incentive is there to be criminal. If the inelastic commodity is in the open market, the organised crime element is no longer attractive or even viable. Not to mention information will flow more freely and there will be much less pressure to develop dangerous and often-misunderstood 'legal highs'...

So it is counter-intuitive, at least if you haven't bothered to look into it, but it really does make sense.
[quote][p][bold]LordAshOfTheBrake[/bold] wrote: One could also argue that the deterrent is not strong enough and therefore the only thing to do to ensure it is is to make all dealers punishable with capital punishment (removing completely the ability to re-offend). There are enough crimes already that are blamed on drug addictions; do you seriously think that is going to reduce by making them cheaper and more widely available through legalisation. Do you seriously think we'll see less addictions by making them more widely available and cheaper? We also have significant crime through alcohol abuse which is legal; so that would suggest legalisation isn't going to stop that problem.[/p][/quote]One could argue further that the punishment would hardly fit the crime in that instance. I would argue very strongly that it is nobody's business what a person does with their own body, but i suppose the bigoted little Englanders in the comments sections on this site would disagree... In any case, let's consider this. The apparent (I say 'apparent' because it is rarely stated) aim of the 'war on drugs' is to reduce harm. Any kind of harm, that is, so anything from overdoses to burglaries which may or may not result from drug use. The fallacy that you, and quite a few of the people in authority, subscribe to is the idea that reducing supply will somehow reduce harm, without any consideration for other options or problems. There is no consideration of basic economics; if you push something into the black market, it is impossible to control, information flows less freely (hence overdoses), and, frankly, the criminals have majority control. Take Portugal, for instance, which decriminalised drugs a few years ago. This has had a positive effect on crime rates AND on numbers of addicts (i.e. fewer addicts, and more seeking treatment). This is surely better than the UK's billions and billions of £ spent urinating into the aforementioned stiff breeze. You could take it even further. It stands to reason that if a relatively inelastic commodity is in the black market, the incentive is there to be criminal. If the inelastic commodity is in the open market, the organised crime element is no longer attractive or even viable. Not to mention information will flow more freely and there will be much less pressure to develop dangerous and often-misunderstood 'legal highs'... So it is counter-intuitive, at least if you haven't bothered to look into it, but it really does make sense. benzss
  • Score: 0

12:48pm Thu 17 Jan 13

LordAshOfTheBrake says...

Quote "One could argue further that the punishment would hardly fit the crime in that instance. I would argue very strongly that it is nobody's business what a person does with their own body, but i suppose the bigoted little Englanders in the comments sections on this site would disagree..."

It has nothing to do with being a bigoted little Englander, as the fact you have to resort to insults does little to backup your argument.

Whether a punishment fits a crime or not is subject to interpretation. People have different views on what constitutes a proper punishment.

Your arguments on organised crime don't stack up, as organised crime currently also operates in relation to tobacco and alcohol (due to high taxation) which are both legal.

Your arguments of pushing stuff to the black market only confirm the fact that the punishments for those caught are nowhere near severe enough; in essence the risk is so low that he chance can be taken.
Quote "One could argue further that the punishment would hardly fit the crime in that instance. I would argue very strongly that it is nobody's business what a person does with their own body, but i suppose the bigoted little Englanders in the comments sections on this site would disagree..." It has nothing to do with being a bigoted little Englander, as the fact you have to resort to insults does little to backup your argument. Whether a punishment fits a crime or not is subject to interpretation. People have different views on what constitutes a proper punishment. Your arguments on organised crime don't stack up, as organised crime currently also operates in relation to tobacco and alcohol (due to high taxation) which are both legal. Your arguments of pushing stuff to the black market only confirm the fact that the punishments for those caught are nowhere near severe enough; in essence the risk is so low that he chance can be taken. LordAshOfTheBrake
  • Score: 0

1:35pm Thu 17 Jan 13

benzss says...

LordAshOfTheBrake wrote:
Quote "One could argue further that the punishment would hardly fit the crime in that instance. I would argue very strongly that it is nobody's business what a person does with their own body, but i suppose the bigoted little Englanders in the comments sections on this site would disagree..." It has nothing to do with being a bigoted little Englander, as the fact you have to resort to insults does little to backup your argument. Whether a punishment fits a crime or not is subject to interpretation. People have different views on what constitutes a proper punishment. Your arguments on organised crime don't stack up, as organised crime currently also operates in relation to tobacco and alcohol (due to high taxation) which are both legal. Your arguments of pushing stuff to the black market only confirm the fact that the punishments for those caught are nowhere near severe enough; in essence the risk is so low that he chance can be taken.
Tobacco and alcohol also appear to be inealstic commodities, then? That suggests to me that higher taxes don't proportionally reduce consumption; or, at least, the amount it's reduced by is made up by the increase in organised crime. You must understand that if a thing is illegal, it is *all* under the purview of organised crime.

You are right that there are differing interpretations, but I would suggest that those interpretations which suggest a victimless crime deserves heavy punishment are, how should i put this, wrong.

It's good that you touch on risk-reward, though. As I've said, inelastic commodities have high resistance to, y'know, the law, and as such the reward of participating in the drugs market is proportional to the risk. i.e. the worse the punishment, the more reward you'll get for trafficking/selling. Really, as I said at the top, the history of drug use is a history of prohibition, and this has all been tried before but to no avail (no, really, it has. Do you think those far eastern countries with death penalties merely for possession of drugs are drug free? Of course they're not, not even close.)
[quote][p][bold]LordAshOfTheBrake[/bold] wrote: Quote "One could argue further that the punishment would hardly fit the crime in that instance. I would argue very strongly that it is nobody's business what a person does with their own body, but i suppose the bigoted little Englanders in the comments sections on this site would disagree..." It has nothing to do with being a bigoted little Englander, as the fact you have to resort to insults does little to backup your argument. Whether a punishment fits a crime or not is subject to interpretation. People have different views on what constitutes a proper punishment. Your arguments on organised crime don't stack up, as organised crime currently also operates in relation to tobacco and alcohol (due to high taxation) which are both legal. Your arguments of pushing stuff to the black market only confirm the fact that the punishments for those caught are nowhere near severe enough; in essence the risk is so low that he chance can be taken.[/p][/quote]Tobacco and alcohol also appear to be inealstic commodities, then? That suggests to me that higher taxes don't proportionally reduce consumption; or, at least, the amount it's reduced by is made up by the increase in organised crime. You must understand that if a thing is illegal, it is *all* under the purview of organised crime. You are right that there are differing interpretations, but I would suggest that those interpretations which suggest a victimless crime deserves heavy punishment are, how should i put this, wrong. It's good that you touch on risk-reward, though. As I've said, inelastic commodities have high resistance to, y'know, the law, and as such the reward of participating in the drugs market is proportional to the risk. i.e. the worse the punishment, the more reward you'll get for trafficking/selling. Really, as I said at the top, the history of drug use is a history of prohibition, and this has all been tried before but to no avail (no, really, it has. Do you think those far eastern countries with death penalties merely for possession of drugs are drug free? Of course they're not, not even close.) benzss
  • Score: 0

5:58pm Thu 17 Jan 13

LordAshOfTheBrake says...

Then why not use the prohibition doesn't work so legalise argument on everything.

Many people speed, so laws against speeding do not work, therefore abolish all speed limits.....

Just another example that use your main argument for legalising drugs just extrapolated to cover other things.

That is the main thrust of your argument after all.

Whilst this statement "the worse the punishment, the more reward you'll get for trafficking/selling" may be correct it conveniently ignores the deterrent aspect that means less people would participate.
Then why not use the prohibition doesn't work so legalise argument on everything. Many people speed, so laws against speeding do not work, therefore abolish all speed limits..... Just another example that use your main argument for legalising drugs just extrapolated to cover other things. That is the main thrust of your argument after all. Whilst this statement "the worse the punishment, the more reward you'll get for trafficking/selling" may be correct it conveniently ignores the deterrent aspect that means less people would participate. LordAshOfTheBrake
  • Score: 0

3:04pm Sun 20 Jan 13

benzss says...

LordAshOfTheBrake wrote:
Then why not use the prohibition doesn't work so legalise argument on everything.

Many people speed, so laws against speeding do not work, therefore abolish all speed limits.....

Just another example that use your main argument for legalising drugs just extrapolated to cover other things.

That is the main thrust of your argument after all.

Whilst this statement "the worse the punishment, the more reward you'll get for trafficking/selling" may be correct it conveniently ignores the deterrent aspect that means less people would participate.
No, you've built a fairly robust straw man there, but you're missing the point.

If your stated aim is X, then any measures you introduce should be in pursuit of X, yes?

So, if we can show that 'wars on drugs' cost a lot of money and do not reduce harm caused by drugs - anywhere along the supply chain - perhaps we'd be better off looking at new solutions. The same goes for road safety, as it goes. It may seem counter-intuitive to hear that it's been shown that the fewer traffic lights there are, the fewer accidents.

And anyway, far eastern countries have big drug problems. Customs and police keep seizing big hauls of most drugs, but they keep on coming, people keep on using, and the more they've clamped down on the less-harmful drugs, the more the more-harmful drugs have been used (similar to in the 'west').

All I'm really asking is for policy makers to realise that drug use is a victimless crime, and most drug users are not criminals. And then base harm reduction strategies on that, instead of the sort of hawkish, knee-jerk, simplistic policies that are in place now.
[quote][p][bold]LordAshOfTheBrake[/bold] wrote: Then why not use the prohibition doesn't work so legalise argument on everything. Many people speed, so laws against speeding do not work, therefore abolish all speed limits..... Just another example that use your main argument for legalising drugs just extrapolated to cover other things. That is the main thrust of your argument after all. Whilst this statement "the worse the punishment, the more reward you'll get for trafficking/selling" may be correct it conveniently ignores the deterrent aspect that means less people would participate.[/p][/quote]No, you've built a fairly robust straw man there, but you're missing the point. If your stated aim is X, then any measures you introduce should be in pursuit of X, yes? So, if we can show that 'wars on drugs' cost a lot of money and do not reduce harm caused by drugs - anywhere along the supply chain - perhaps we'd be better off looking at new solutions. The same goes for road safety, as it goes. It may seem counter-intuitive to hear that it's been shown that the fewer traffic lights there are, the fewer accidents. And anyway, far eastern countries have big drug problems. Customs and police keep seizing big hauls of most drugs, but they keep on coming, people keep on using, and the more they've clamped down on the less-harmful drugs, the more the more-harmful drugs have been used (similar to in the 'west'). All I'm really asking is for policy makers to realise that drug use is a victimless crime, and most drug users are not criminals. And then base harm reduction strategies on that, instead of the sort of hawkish, knee-jerk, simplistic policies that are in place now. benzss
  • Score: 0

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