Thursday, January 08, 2009

Confused of Ealing Broadway

Every day in pretty much every magistrates' court in the land, we see people who use heroin, or sell heroin, or steal to get the cash for heroin. Our armoury of disposals includes fines and more often community penalties or suspended sentence orders that include mandatory drug treatment. As a country we spend many millions on enforcement, rehab, prison, and paying for the crime committed by and for addicts.
So what are we supposed to make of this piece in the Spectator, written by the respected Theodore Dalrymple (aka Dr.Anthony Daniels) who is a retired prison doctor. He is a doctor, I am not. His assertions are in flat contradiction of the accepted models of dealing with heroin users. What's going on?
I remanded a heroin user last week. She was 40 and looked 60. I let her sit down in the dock because she was shivering, her eyes intermittently closing as she tried to stand between the guards. "I'm clucking" she slurred. She was wanted at another court so we sent her into custody, and she thanked me, presumably because she was going to get a few nights' kip (she was a rough sleeper) a shower a meal and perhaps Methadone.
Should we be cruel to be kind, or is Dalrymple way off-beam? I am not qualified to comment, but I wish that I were.

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