Ken Jones, the president of the UK’s Association of Chief Police Officers, has suggested that more heroin addicts should be able to receive their drug on prescription from the NHS. This used to be the situation in the 1960s, and it worked very well. There were only 5,000 heroin addicts in the UK. Then some tabloid newspapers frightened a weak government with hysterical headlines and we found ourselves in the present war on drugs.
There are now “327,466 hardcore "problem drug users" who are regularly using heroin, crack or cocaine”. An estimated 200,000 of these are addicted to heroin. The average heroin addict commits 423 crimes per year to fund their habit. That’s a total of 8,460,000 crimes each year. The cost to society is huge. If pharmaceutical quality heroin was available free on prescription there would be a reduction in the number of addicts dying each year, and enormous financial savings from reducing the amounts spend on policing, imprisonment and welfare. The costs of supplying the heroin would be trivial compared to the savings.
Jones is to be applauded for his remarks. Of course, heroin should be widely available on prescription. The only obstacle to doing so is the cowardly Labour government who fear the tabloid hysteria that would result if they changed their current failing policies. The Labour government likes to prate about its concern for poor people on council estates who are affected by crime, and have produced lots of half arsed measures such as ASBOs.
It is the people living on council estates who are the main victims of junkies. If the government really wanted to help them then it would eliminate the junkie’s incentive to steal by giving them their drugs free of charge. If it really wanted to destroy drug dealers then the easiest way to do that would be to take away their market.