Monday, January 17, 2011

Mule Strain

Alured Darlington is an experienced defence solicitor who is well known in the courts of West London. He has held office in his local Law Society, and his views are widely respected. He often deals with cases involving foreigners who bring Class A drugs into the UK through different ports airports and rail termini. As I have said before, the sentences for this kind of offence are enormous, in an attempt, so far fruitless, to deter the importing of hard drugs. In a letter to The Times (sorry no link - it's paywalled) he says that the sentences for “drug mules” from the developing world ought to be reduced.

(edited) the suggestion that if ministers want to reduce the prison population they should start by drastically reducing the number of foreign offenders held in British jails, echoes a proposal made by the Sentencing Advisory Panel before it was disbanded last year. The panel proposed that sentences for “drug mules” should be reduced and its rationale was that the prison sentence tariff of ten years plus, was out of step with sentencing for serious cases of violence and dishonesty.

He goes on to point out the sometimes devastating effect that such sentences have on the families of the so-called "mules". I understand that the serious traffickers (who rarely appear in a court) assure their foot soldiers that if they are caught they will simply be deported.

I am well aware of the potentially appalling consequences of drug abuse and of its destabilising influence at the lower end of our society. Communities and individuals can be reduced to near barbarism in some cases - but the penalties, however serious they are, certainly don't seem to be acting as a deterrent.

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