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Ex-Cop Warns: Fabric Closure Will Help Gangs Flourish in London

15/09/2016 16:32

When I wrote this story for the Birmingham Mail, it gave me quite a terrifying (albeit very brief) insight into the organised crime gangs of Britain.

The subject of the piece, Neil Woods, has chronicled the twists and turns of a tumultuous career in undercover policing in his book, Good Cop, Bad War, and was happy to give me the low-down into how the drug trade fuels gang crime in Britain.

As I read the book following our interview, I learnt of Neil's work in nightclubs, busting dealers that were pushing drugs to revellers. It's work that I'm sure he'd freely admit did nothing to dent the 'war on drugs'.

So when London nightclub Fabric closed, it got me thinking. What will this mean for the city, and it's criminals? I called Neil to get his thoughts.

"The closure of Fabric is going to increase the risk to young people and empower organised crime further," Neil told me, bluntly. "It's not solving a problem, it's causing one.

"The gangsters who run the drug supply are going to be really happy about this because when there has been squeezes on clubs before, the underground scene that is run by organised criminal gangs gets more business.

"The drug market is still going to exist, but now it's going to happen in much more risky venues. Unlicensed premises or warehouses."

Neil is clear on two things: that Fabric's closure is pointless, and that the fault lies with those in power.

"The government have the opportunity to make things safer for young people, but instead make it more dangerous, by forcing it into the criminal underground," Neil said.

Neil left the force to chair UK Leap, a network of law enforcement figures seeking alternatives to punitive drug laws, as he felt the 'war on drugs' was failing. He says that drug regulation is the only way to protect users.

"It's not even complicated, you regulate all drugs, to take the power away from organised crime groups and get out of this never ending cycle. The drugs would be safer, and accidental deaths would drop drastically."

Prohibition, Neil warns, does not work: "The public have too much faith in the idea that you ban something and that sorts it out. Banning drugs literally has no impact, and people are addicted to the delusion that it does.

"There's been so much propaganda to support prohibition, because everyone wants to say that it's working. Seizures of heroin or cocaine in this country add up to about one per cent of the drugs in this country. That's just expected losses to organised criminal gangs. No seizures make a difference to price or purity."

What do you think? Should drugs be regulated? Have your say in the comments below.

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