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London Cops Launch Casual Coke Crackdown

Author: Jonty Skrufff
Sunday, February 6, 2005
The Metropolitan Police's new Chief Commissioner Sir Ian Blair promised this week to actively start targeting recreational cocaine users, particularly celebrities at "certain fashionable club and restaurants' and middle class folk at dinner parties.

"People think it is OK but I do not think it is OK to use cocaine," the Commissioner snorted. "We will have to do something about it by making a few examples of people so that they understand; I am concerned that it is becoming socially acceptable." (Daily Telegraph)

Civil liberties campaigner Steve Rolles from respected drugs reform organisation Transform was unimpressed, however, telling Skrufff "it was a bizarre and ridiculous thing for him to come out with as his first public pronouncement. What's he planning to do - go round Islington kicking in doors-'

"People who have problems with cocaine should get the help they need, people who don't have problems are no concern of the police or Government," Steve continued.

"This should be an issue for the Department of Health not the Home Office. Criminal law is there to protect us from crime not send out public health messages," he pointed out.

Sir Ian announced his proposed new crackdown just weeks after an independent survey revealed that cocaine is more widely available and cheaper than ever (the Independent Drug Monitoring Unit's findings suggested a line is now cheaper than a cappuccino in London).

Discussing the survey's implications, the Observer described them as an "embarrassment' to Tony Blair, though Transform claimed this week that the PM's tough on drugs stance is principally motivated by populist electoral concerns.

"In 2000 Tony Blair sent the now infamous leaked memo to (policy adviser) Philip Gould in which he identifies a "need to highlight the tough measures' (all of which relate to drugs) and that "this should be done soon and I personally should be associated with it'," Transform said this week in a document challenging Blair's latest drugs bill.

"As we approach the next election the pattern appears to be repeating itself.
In the short press release from the Home Office announcing the new Drugs
Bill there are no less than four mentions of "tough' in the first 150 words: "a tough package of anti-drugs measures', "tougher action against dealers',' tougher penalties' and "tougher powers to deal with dealers'. The Prime Ministers speech announcing the Bill contained a similar number of "toughs', and we can expect more of the same in the coming months," said Transform.