By Simon Oxenham
Last week Neil Franklin, a retired major from Marylyn State Police, led a troop of serving and former police chiefs, soldiers and a former spy into the Parliament to call MPs to end the war on drugs. Their testimony was damning and revealing.
Franklin opened the meeting with an explanation of the campaign’s mission to “reduce crime, disease, death and addiction by ending the most socially destructive public policy since slavery.” Franklin explained how his organisation of “police officers, agents, judges, criminal prosecutors, corrections officials and others” including over 180,000 members and supporters in over 180 countries share one goal, to end “the world’s longest war”.
According to Franklin “we have been attempting to solve a public health crisis with criminal justice solutions and the results have been catastrophic”. While repeated calls from academia and public health have failed to convince most politicians, the group hopes calls from within the criminal justice system will finally make them listen. What follows are all direct quotes, edited for concision.
Suzanne Sharkey (pictured above): Former Constable and Undercover Officer at Northumbria Constabulary
“When I look back at my time in the police I feel ashamed, I feel a sense of failure. I feel ashamed that I wasn’t arresting career criminals. I was arresting people from poor socially deprived areas with little or no hope whose crime was non-violent drug possession, a complete failure of the war on drugs. I believe that one of the biggest barriers for people with problematic substance misuse to seeking help and treatment is the current drug policy. It does nothing, it achieves nothing except creating more harm for individuals, families and society as a whole. All of us know the problems and what we need to do but rather than be united by the problems let’s be united by the solutions. Solutions based in health, education and compassion rather than criminalisation.”