Tuesday, November 06, 2007


The unlovely 'Sun' headlines a story about Pete Doherty taking (surprise, surprise) heroin, and demands that magistrates do their duty and lock him up straight away. I did a piece about Mr. Doherty on a Five Live phone-in the other day and I had to rebut the suggestion that he is getting specially favourable treatment from the courts. He is simply a junkie, with no suggestion of dealing or importing. What makes him different is that he can afford the stuff without turning to crime, since he is a millionaire. The courts approach drug users from the direction of community orders involving drug treatment. Locking up all junkies would be simply sadistic and totally pointless, and only rehab therapy has any chance of getting them clean - and even that is of variable and sometimes disappointing efficacy.
Mr. Doherty is currently on a suspended prison sentence coupled with a drug rehab requirement and probation supervision. If he breaches those requirements or reoffends he will probably go inside, which will please the 'Sun' no end, since they will get a headline out of it. But anyone with a trace of realism or of compassion (and in this case either will lead to the same conclusion) will see that getting a high-level junkie like him off such an entrenched habit is not going to be easy and is bound to involve lapses disappointments and setbacks. In times of disaster, Winston Churchill would resolve to 'Keep Buggering On'. That's the way it has to be with this particular junkie, too.

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