E for Ecstasy by Nicholas Saunders
Appendix 1: Reference Section
- 89 Interview with Detective Chief Superintendent Derek Todd,
Drugs Coordinator with the No 9 Regional Crime Squad, at Spring Gardens,
- On April 1 1993, Todd was promoted to assistant coordinator of the new
South East Regional Crime Squad, an amalgamation of the No 9 Squad with
the No 5 and No 6 Squads, with special responsibility for drugs.
- Todd says he believes the way to control drug use is by reducing demand,
rather than supply. If there is a demand, it will be supplied somehow. The
answer is to try to prevent use. Instead of taking people to court who are
caught with drugs for their own use, he would prefer to be able to force
such offenders to attend counselling sessions aimed at educating them about
the dangers of drug use. Compulsory attendance of such sessions would continue
until tests showed that offenders were drug free. When I suggested that
if counselling reflected the truth it would inform users that MDMA is no
more harmful than alcohol, Todd agreed that alcohol was bad but said that
two wrongs don't make a right. He accepts that young people will take drugs
whatever is done by the authorities, but says that if no action is taken
we will end up with a society where drug taking is normal. "I will
fight to prevent that," he said passionately.
- Todd believes that the reason that Ecstasy is so popular and has reached
parts of the population that no other drugs have reached, is that it has
been marketed better than other drugs.
- Asked about his attitude to harm reduction policies, Todd replied that
he is in favour of harm reduction in principle, provided it is first emphasised
that taking the drug is against the law. He showed me a leaflet that emphasised
the need to look after oneself when taking drugs, rather than the illegality
of the drugs. Advice on what to do in relation to one drug may be harmful
if applied to another drug, and this could occur because people were often
sold a different drug to the one they thought they were buying. Harm reduction
policies should directly promote healthy practices, and not encourage people
to think they can safely use drugs which may cause casualties.
- Todd said that he believes ideas about liberalisation are never thought
through. Any changes in the law on drugs have to be international and simultaneous,
or problems are created. For instance, Holland allows legal manufacture
of MDEA and the growing of cannabis and these drugs are exported to England.
The British police have been successful in finding MDMA factories in the
UK, but this has only resulted in manufacturers moving abroad.
- One clandestine factory was found in a garden shed in a garden centre
open to the public. The operators had no qualifications but had been taught
by chemists; they had instructions for making MDMA pinned up on the wall.
They produced batches of about 20 kgs. Each batch took 24-36 hours to make
and was then left to dry. Todd says that the ideal time to raid is when
one batch is drying and another is being made, otherwise it may be that
either no manufacture can be proven, or that there is none of the illicit
product on the premises. The main way of catching manufacturers is through
informers; but sometimes suppliers of equipment and chemicals will notify
the police who then follow their deliveries.
- Asked about penalties for Ecstasy use, Todd said that he "didn't
advocate prison for popping an E". However, MDMA is a Class A drug
and is in that category because it is regarded as dangerous. This view is
upheld by respected experts such as Dr. John Henry. People have died as
a result of taking the drug, and so others must be protected. In fact people
caught with Ecstasy are often cautioned, but this is largely because the
testing labs are 'snowed under' (or under-funded). In December 1992, the
Metropolitan Police lab had a long waiting time for drug tests: if the charge
was supplying drugs, the wait was 47 days; if only 'in possession', 50%
of samples were tested within 71 days and the rest took up to 92 days. This
made it preferable for the police to get an admission from a suspect that
the substance found was an illegal drug and then to give a caution. Todd
says that suppliers are generally not Mafia or Kray Brother types. Over
the past four years there has been a trend towards the "standard British
criminal", who 20 to 30 years ago would have done an armed robbery,
turning to drug dealing or any other scam.
E is for Ecstasy by Nicholas Saunders (email@example.com)
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of psychoactives book by Nicholas Saunders