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If there's one thing that has come from the drugs laws, it's that they have given the news media something to write about on unnewsy days. But how little of it stands up to scrutiny.

For example, the Beeb's own File on 4 is touting a story from a 'leading youth charity', which - according to File on 4 - says that about 4,000 teenagers from London are being exploited and trafficked every year to sell drugs in rural towns and cities.

I've mentioned before that in my early days in journalism, I used to report on these very shaky stories of drugs misuse. It was all unfathomable to me, but like a good junior reporter, I accepted what authority said. Eventually, though, I went off in search of the truth.
Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Many thanks to Jeremy Paige for his photograph on Unsplash

'Known as county lines, gangs use children as young as 12 to traffic drugs, using dedicated mobile phones or lines,' says File on 4.

Then they state that Anti-Slavery Commissioner Kevin Hyland described the figures as shocking and that the exploitation was only slowly being recognised.

Kids as salesmen

Does it make sense that gangs allegedly making millions from selling drugs would actually get kids to be salesmen and deliverers?

Later in their account, File on 4 gets to the astonishing claim by the 'leading youth charity'. What the charity's chief exec actually said - going by the report - is that 'a frightening number of young people are at risk of being involved in county lines dealing.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Many thanks to Greta Scholderle-Moller for her photograph on Unsplash

'We have started recording when we've got concerns,' the executive says.

To me that seems a million miles from the opener, that about 4,000 teenagers from London are being exploited and trafficked every year.

Tricky Dicky's laws

Because I have been so punished by Tricky Dicky's laws, I can't help but notice the astonishing exaggeration that accompanies reporting that has much to do with that alleged world of drug selling.

Even people not born entrepreneurs might spot that to get kids to sell - or deliver - drugs that carry such an allegedly high price has to be close to financial suicide.

If a child comes to your door, and you happen to be of the type that wants drugs, are you likely to oblige a dear child asking for, what, £400 for the delivery? It's all against the law, so why not take the goods and just shut the door on the young face?

I've mentioned before that in my early days in journalism, I used to report on these very shaky stories of drugs misuse. It was all unfathomable to me, but like a good junior reporter, I accepted what authority said. Eventually, though, I went off in search of the truth.

I visited Amsterdam, of course. No problems there. I also travelled to Kathmandu for at that time it had not succumbed to American pressure over tricky Dicky's laws. You could buy all you might need in Nepal's government shops. The price was right and apparently the quality unbeatable.

People smoked the desired stuff in the street, and you could have hash cookies with coffee or tea at the local versions of Costas. A more peaceful, untroubled city would be hard to find.

Of course, the final straw for me came when the prosecutor persuaded the jury that alone in a stripped out racing yacht, I had brought drugs to UK, worth about £700 million, I think they said, probably offloading them to a helicopter or submarine from my closest point, 1,100 miles south of Lands End.

The sooner good sense rules and we treat these nonsense laws as our wiser forebears treated Prohibition, the better.

Thanks very much for visiting the blogs for my adventure book, Sailing to Purgatory.

Links:
File on 4's Children forced to sell drugs