A former undercover cop who spent 14 years on the frontline of the so-called ‘War On Drugs’ has described the moment he realised his work was only doing harm.
Neil Woods described meeting a young heroin addict in Northampton, who said she was compelled to keep taking the drug to suppress memories of abuse she suffered as a child. Without it, she became suicidal.
He story led Woods on a path of “realisation” that criminalising drug users meant the war he was fighting only served to “make the lives of the vulnerable more unbearable”.
Britain had 952 heroin or morphine-related deaths in 2014, according to the most recently-published figures.
Legal heroin prescription has been pioneered in Switzerland, where the drug is given to 3,000 of its most addicted citizens, cutting not only use of the drug among them but cutting crime such as burglaries as well.
Woods said such a scheme here could have “saved” the woman he met “from the streets... from the manipulation of organised crime”.
“Even if you don’t care about the plight of people like that, perhaps you care about the difference in money because it’s far cheaper to take care of someone than to criminalise them,” he says.
In this video with HuffPost UK, Woods explains how he ultimately left policing and came to champion drugs reform.