Sunday, 28 November 2010

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

London - 6.30pm Friday 18 Nov. 2010 - Remember the Suffragettes

A Suffragette being forced fed in an English prison

A Vigil – Thursday 18th November – 6.30pm, College Green, Westminster.

100 years ago, on 18/11/10, two women were injured and later died because they tried to enter Parliament. They were part of a group of Suffragettes who went to the Houses to demand a debate on the Conciliation Bill, a bill that would have given some women basic voting rights.

Of the 300 who came, 200 women were arrested that day. There were 6000 police. We call it Black Friday.

100 years have passed. Fewer than 1 in 5 MPs are women. Only 1% of the world’s money is controlled by women. For every 10 people displaced by climate change, 7 are women.

We stand in vigil to remember the brave women who fought so we might vote. We stand to show solidarity with women across the world who don’t know justice. We stand for those that can’t.

Join us at 6.30pm on 18/11/10 to remember Black Friday.

Bring a candle, a jamjar, a banner and a veil.

Hear Caroline Lucas MP and Dr Diane Atkinson.

Hat Tip - Climate Rush

Monday, 15 November 2010

Drug Policy Harm Part Five: Conclusion (and bibliography)

Please note this paper was drafted April 2009 and has not been updated

Continued from ... Drug Policy Harms Part Four: The Legal Harms


There is a clear relationship between violence and illegal drugs and alcohol. Indeed alcohol and illegal drugs contribute to a range of social harms. In exploring these harms we need to differentiate between those which are consequences of the substances and those which are generated by policy. We can not completely remove the harms of drugs; but an effective drug policy, covering both currently legal and illegal drugs can minimise the harms these substances cause.

Figure 11 (Source TDPF 2009:21)

Controls over supplier

  • Hours of opening
  • Location/appearance of outlet, number of outlets
  • Licensing/training of vendors/staff
  • Controls over marketing/advertising
Controls over purchaser

  • Age controls (minimum age, ID / proof of age required for purchase)
  • Restriction of sale if purchaser is intoxicated
  • Volume rationing
  • Purchase tracking
  • Licensing of purchaser
  • Delay between order and pick up
  • Required membership of group or union for purchase
  • Consumption on licensed premises only
Controls over product

  • Packaging (plain packaging, tamper proofing, health and safety warnings etc)
  • Preparation, dosage, quantity
  • Coded for individual licensed purchaser
Such a policy must involve government taking responsibility for regulation of these substances markets. This would include intervention on pricing and would allow a range of controls, as set out in Figure 11 above.  Clearly treatment and law enforcement have a role to play under such a regime but they would no longer be the key to the minimisation of harm or indeed violence. By rejecting the idea that harm and violence is the consequence of individuals making irresponsible choices in an unregulated market we can adopt a new policy paradigm. The policy, based on scientific evidence, will allow us to significantly reduce violence and other harms by implementing effective regulation and control, based on the public health principles of promoting well being and minimising harm. Criminologists can contribute to this, but only if they escape the straight jacket of their discipline and approach the issues using a broader social harm perspective.

J.M. Moore
23 April 2009

Academy of Medical Sciences (2004) Calling Time: The Nation’s drinking as a major health issue, London, The Academy of Medical Sciences

AMCD (Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs) (2009) MDMA (‘ecstasy’): A Review of its Harms and Classification under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 London, Home Office

BBC (2009) ‘Drug adviser criticised by Smith’ BBC News on-line 9th Feb. 2009. Online at (Accessed 11 April 2009)

Behr, E. (1996) Prohibition: thirteen years that changed America New York, Arcade Publishing

Brown, J & Langton, D. (2007) ‘Legalise all drugs: chief constable demands end to ‘immoral law’ Independent 15 October 2007

Burnham, A. (2008) Written ministerial statement by Andy Burnham on the Evaluation of the impact of the Licensing Act 2003 Online at: (Accessed 23 April 2009)

Cabinet Office (1998) Better Regulation Task Force Welcomes Liquor Licensing White Paper, London Cabinet Office Press Release

Cabinet Office (2004) Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy for England. London, Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit

Caulkins, J.P. & Reuter, P. (1998) ‚What price data tell us about drug markets’. pp. 593-613 in Journal of Drug Issues No. 28, Vol.3.

Dills, A.K., Miron, J.A. and Summers, G (2008) ‘What do economists know about crime?’ Working Paper 13759 National Bureau of Economic Research Cambridge, MA

Donaldson, L. (2009) 150 years of the Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer, London, Department of Health

Dorling D., Gordon, D., Hillyard, P., Pantazis, C., Pemperton, S. and Tombs, S. (2008) Criminal Obsessions: Why harm matters more than crime. (2nd Edition) London, Crime and Society Foundation.

Easton, M. (2009) ‘Could we save billions by legalising drugs?’ BBC News online at: (Accessed 11 April 2009)

Glenny, M (2008) McMafia: Seriously Organised Crime London Vintage Books

Goodacre, S. (2005) ‘The Licensing Act: an act of stupidity?’ pp. 682 in Emergency Medical Journal Vol. 22

Gordon, L,. Tinsley, L, Godfrey, C and Parrott, S (2008) ‘The economic and social cost of Class A drug use in England and Wales, 2003/4’ pp. 41-45 in Singleton, N., Murray, R. and Tinsley, L. Measuring different aspects of problem drug use: methodological developments (2nd Edition) London, Home Office

Haldeman, H.R. (1994) The Haldeman Diaries: Inside the Nixon White House. New York, G. P. Putnams Sons

Hillyard, P., Pantazis, C., Tombs, S. and Gordon, D (2004) ‘Introduction’ pp.1-9 in Hillyard, P., Pantazis, C., Tombs, S. and Gordon, D Beyond Criminology: Taking Harm Seriously, London, Pluto Press

Hillyard, P and Tombs, S. (2008), ‘Beyond Criminalogy?’, pp. 6–23 in Dorling D., Gordon, D., Hillyard, P., Pantazis, C., Pemperton, S. and Tombs, S. Criminal Obsessions: Why harm matters more than crime. (2nd Edition) London, Crime and Society Foundation

Hoare, J and Flately, J Drug Use Declared: Findings from the 2007/08 British Crime Survey England and Wales London, Home Office

Home Office (2008) Drug Strategy Equality Impact Assessment Available Online at: (Accessed 23 April 2009)

Hough, M., Hunter, G., Jacobson, J. and Cossalter, S. (2008) The Impact of the Licensing Act 203 on levels of crime and disorder: an evaluation. London Home Office

Howker, E. (2009) ‘The Big Question: Do we need a new debate about relaxing drugs policy in Britain?’ The Independent 11th February 2009

Human Rights Watch (2004) Not enough graves: The War on Drugs, HIV/AIDS, and violations of Human Rights, New York, Human Rights watch

Hunter, G. and May, T (2004) Solutions and Strategies: Drug Problems and Street Markets, London, Home Office

Independent (2009) ‘PM rejects minimum alcohol price idea’ Independent 16th March 2009 online at: (Accessed 23 April 2009)

Jason-Lloyd, L (2007) Misuse of Drugs: A Straightforward Guide to the Law Winchester, Waterside Press

Jones, S., Miller-Mack, E. & Ahrens, L. (2005) Prisoners of the War on Drugs, Northampton Ma, The Real Cost of Prisons Project

Joseph, M (2000) Ecstasy, London, Carlton Books

Labour Party (1991) Drugs: A Consultation Document London, Labour Party

London Ambulance Service (2009) ‘Alcohol-related calls’ Available online at: (Accessed 23 April 2009)

Marks, H. (1996) Mr Nice London, Secker and Warburg

McGreal, C (2009) ‘Retaliation theory as president of Guinea-Bissau is assassinated.’ Guardian 3rd March 2009 Online at: (Accessed 21 April 2009)

McSweeney, T., Turnbull, P.J. & Hough, M. (2008) Tackling Drug Markets and Distribution Networks in the UK: A review of the recent literature London, UK Drug Policy Commission

National Statistics (2009) ‘Alcohol Deaths: Rates stabilise in the UK’ online at (Accessed 19 April 2009)

Newton, A., Sarker, S.J., Pahal, G.S., van den Bergh, E. and Young, C. (2007) ‘Impact of the new UK licensing law on emergency hospital attendances: a cohort study’ pp. 532-534 in Emergency Medical Journal Vol. 24.

Newton, A., Hirschfield, A., Armitage, A., Rogerson, M., Monchuk, L. and Wilcox, A. (2008e) Evaluation of Licensing Act: Measuring Crime and Disorder in and around Licensed Premises, Home Office Research Study SRG/05/007 Final Report. Huddersfield: University of Huddersfield Applied Criminology Centre.

Norris, P, & Williams, D. (2008) ‘Binge Drinking, anti-social behaviour, and alcohol-related disorder: examining the 2003 Licensing Act’ pp. 257-272 in Squires, P. Asbo nation: The Criminalisation of Nuisance Bristol, Policy Press

Nutt, D.J. (2009) ‘Equasy: An overlooked addiction with implications for the current debate on drug harms’ pp 3-5 in Journal of Psychopharmacolgy Vol. 23. No. 3.

Nutt, D.J. (2006) ‘A tale of two Es’ pp. 315-317 in Journal of Psychopharmacology No. 20, Vol. 3.

Nutt, D.J., King, L.A., Saulsbury, W. & Blakemore, C (2007) ‘Developing a rational scale for assessing the risks of drugs of potential misuse’. Pp. 1047–1053 in the Lancet Vol. 369:

ONS (Office for National Statistics) (2005) ‘Alcohol related death rates in England and Wales, 2001 to 2003.’ Available online at (Accessed 20 April 2009)

Pemperton. S (2007) ‘Social harm future(s): exploring the potential of the social harm approach’ pp. 27-41 in Crime, Law and Social Change Vol. 48, Nos. 1-2.

Phillips, M. (2009) ‘Drugs no worse than horse-riding? The folly of those ‘experts’ simply beggars belief’ Daily Mail 9th Feb. 2009

Rayner, G. (2006) pp. 174-182 in Griffiths, S. & Hunter, D.J. (2006) New perspectives in public health, Oxford, Radcliffe Publishing

Reuters (2008) online at (Accessed 19 December 2008)

Rolles, S., Kushlick, D. and Jay, M. (2006) After the War on Drugs: Options for Control Bristol, Transform Drug Policy Foundation

Rush, B.R., Gliksman, L. and Brook, R. (1986) ‘Alcohol Availability, Alcohol Consumption and Alcohol-Related Damage: The Distribution of Consumption Model’ pp. 1-10 in Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs Vol. 47, No. 1.

Sivarajasingam, V., Moore, S. and Shepherd, J. P. (2007) Violence in England and Wales 2006: an accident and emergency perspective. Violence Research Group, Cardiff University Available Online: (Accessed 21 April 2009)

Smart, C (1990) ‘Feminist approaches to criminology or post modern woman meets atavistic man.’ pp. 70-84 in Gelsthorpe, L. & Morris, (eds.) A. Feminist perspectives in criminology. Milton Keynes, Open University Press

SU Drugs Project (2003) Phase 1 Report: Understanding the Issues Leaked to Guardian and available at: (accessed 11 April 2009)

TDPF (2009) A Comparison of the Cost-effectiveness of the Prohibition and Regulation of Drugs, Bristol, Transform Drug Policy Foundation Full Document Available Online at: (accessed 12 April 2009)

Tree, S. (2007) What Darwin teaches us about the drug war (online at (Accessed 12 April 2009)

Wilson, L. and Stevens, A. (2008) Understanding Drug Markets and How to Influence Them. Oxford, The Beckley Foundation

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Drug Policy Harm Part Four: The legal harms

Please note this paper was drafted April 2009 and has not been updated

Continued from ... Drug Policy Harm Part Three: The Failure to Regulate

Alcohol – A failure of regulation

Having highlighted the scale of the failure of prohibition and the ensuing violence in the case of illegal drugs my argument has been implicitly suggesting that these are problems that could be solved by abandoning the policy of prohibition. Using the example of existing policies applied to alcohol it is possible to highlight that whilst legalisation offers the opportunity of minimising harm, this potential can only be fully realised if the substances are subjected to a regime of control and regulation, driven by public health considerations which resist the pressure of commercial interests. As prohibition in America demonstrated alcohol would cause considerably more harm and generate a massive amount of violence if it was illegal. (Behr 1996) However it still causes considerable harm and generates levels of violence that could be significantly reduced by effective public health led regulation.

New Labour’s policy on alcohol has, since 1997, been driven by the demands of the alcohol industry and is characterised by progressive deregulation and a taxation policy that has led to alcohol becoming progressively more affordable. (Rayner 2006:179-181) The link between availability of alcohol, its consumption and alcohol related harms is clearly established. (Rush et al 1986) Availability can be controlled both by price and restrictions on where and when it can be sold. The 2003 Licensing Act was the culmination of the process of deregulation begun decades earlier. Public health considerations were effectively marginalised; when the 2003 Act was implemented in 2005, alcohol deaths in England and Wales had risen by 20% in the preceding five years. (ONS 2005) It was in line with the New Labour’s government’s commitment to the alcohol industry, summed up by its Better Regulation Task Force’s call for action to remove ‘unnecessary burdens from this important industry and allow it to grow in the modern world’. (Cabinet Office 1998) In an editorial in the Emergency Medical Journal the legislation was described as ‘an act of stupidity’ which, despite being unlikely to have an immediate impact, would contribute to the ‘continuing progression of an already depressing situation.’ (Goodacre 2005:682) But as we saw above when discussing ecstasy, alcohol kills on a scale that dwarfs the fatalities of all illicit drugs. Figure 8 below demonstrates how over the past two decades alcohol deaths have virtually doubled.

Figure 8 - Alcohol-related death rates by sex, United Kingdom, 1991-2007
(Source:  National Statistics 2009)
Despite an overwhelming body of scientific evidence showing links between availability, price, harm and death, the Government’s Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy claims ‘our analysis showed that the drivers of consumption are much more complex than merely price and availability’. (Cabinet Office 2004:18) Figure 9 charts alcohol prices and levels of consumption. Price is showing a steady decline, consumption a steady increase and in Figure 8 we saw the upward trend of alcohol related deaths.

Figure 9 (Source: The Academy of Medical Sciences 2004:18)
  Andy Burnham, the relevant minister, in a statement last year claimed a review of the 2003 Act’s impact revealed a ‘mixed picture’, highlighting its successes as being ‘a considerable reduction in red tape – estimated at £99m per annum’ and that ‘millions of people have been able to able to enjoy … socialising in restaurants, bars and caf├ęs beyond 11pm.’ (Burnham 2008) His main conclusions were

that people are using the freedoms but people are not sufficiently using the considerable powers granted by the Act to tackle problems, and that there is a need to rebalance action towards enforcement and crack down on irresponsible behaviour. (Ibid)
In support of the Minister’s statement was a body of criminological research. (Hough et al 2008, Newton et al 2008) Hough et al (2008) conclude that there are not ‘any clear signs yet that the abolition of a standard closing time has significantly reduced problems of crime and disorder.’ (Hough et al 2008:1 Emphasis added) This report is unfortunately typical of much Home Office funded criminological research. For example it refers only in passing to the Alcohol Misuse Enforcement Campaign, a Home Office funded operation carried out by 43 police forces following the implementation of this legislation, implying it was an ‘existing … initiative’ and fails to consider the possibility that it potential caused a short term distortion to levels of alcohol related crime. (Norris & Williams 2008:264, Hough et al 2008:4) In looking at information from attendances at Accident and Emergency Departments Hough et al (2008) highlight the research of Sivarajasingam et al (2007) which reported on serious violence recorded by a sample of A&E departments. None of its data is specifically about alcohol and although it makes a number of assertions about the 2003 Act, there is no evidence base to sustain these. Research carried out in hospitals showing significant increases in alcohol related A&E attendances and by ambulance services is also mentioned although its evidence is not adequately explored. (Newton et al 2007) The London ambulance service figures at the time Hough et al (2008:9) completed their report showed during the first ten months following implementation of the Act, alcohol related call outs had increased by 2%. A year later they had increased by 12% and the most recent figures show a 28% increase. (London Ambulance Service 2009) The evidence, particularly from medical sources, suggests that the impact of the Act has been consistent with overall alcohol policy, and is contributing to increased harm and violence.

Regulating the legal harms
Earlier this year Liam Donaldson, the Government’s Chief Medical Advisor recommended a minimum price for a unit of alcohol. His advice was clear

Quite simply, England is drinking far too much. England has an alcohol problem. Alcohol is not simply a problem for the minority who are dependent on it - it is a problem for everybody … There is a clear relationship between price and consumption of alcohol … Price increases generally reduce heavy drinkers' consumption by a greater proportion than they reduce moderate drinkers' consumption. (Donaldson 2002:22)

Figure 10 (Source Donaldson 2009:21)
 Figure 10 illustrates this. The benefits of this policy would be considerable; the Chief Medical Officer argues that a 50p minimum unit price would reduce crimes by 46,000 a year and reduce hospital admissions by 100,000 a year. (Donaldson 2009:22) However the minimum price has been rejected by Prime Minister Gordon Brown because

It is right for society to bear down on, and deal with, anti-social behaviour that is associated with drinking ... (but) it is also right that we do not want the responsible, sensible majority of moderate drinkers to have to pay more, or suffer, as a result of the excesses of a small minority. (Cited in Independent 2009)
Yet again the problem is presented as being about individuals and the evidence of government policy generating harm and violence is ignored. Alcohol policy is more sensitive to the producers, distributors and retailers of the drug than it is to both the Government’s Chief Medical Officer and the substantial body of scientific research supporting his arguments.

Continued ... Drug Policy Harm Part Five: Conclusion (and bibliography)