Tag Archives: drugs

Universal Credit sanction led to miscarriages, drug addiction and jail

In the light of this story, how do Tories justify benefit sanctions, again?

Danielle John, of Wales, suffered a miscarriage at work the day before she was due to attend a Universal Credit interview with the Department for Work and Pensions.

As a result, she was unable to attend the interview and forgot to notify the DWP – justifiably, as any reasonable person would say.

The DWP disagreed.

It seems the decision to take £10.40 per day from her benefit for 229 days – £72.80 per week or £2,381.60 for the whole period – sucked all the hope out of Ms John and she fell back into a life of drugs that she had only recently managed to quit.

She became addicted to heroin again and had eight further miscarriages, according to the Mirror.

That means eight people (at least) have died as a result of the decision to sanction this woman.

And a ninth nearly died – Ms John tried to kill herself at one point.

Apparently the DWP said the sanction was due to eight missed appointments – but Ms John said the appointment after her miscarriage that led to the sanction was the first she missed. There seems to be a slight disparity there!

And now, even though her sanction is over, Ms John is finding it hard to get paid work because she has a criminal record – due to the sanction.

She spent 11 weeks in jail for shoplifting during her time as an addict.

But she is spending her time usefully, volunteering with homelessness organisation The Wallich.

This is a story of one woman’s fall and rise – at least to a level close to where she started.

But it raises a serious question.

How many people, sanctioned off of Universal Credit, have fallen – never to rise again?

Source: Universal Credit hell of mum who suffered eight miscarriages and ended up in jail – Mirror Online

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POLL: Does anybody care about all these Tory leadership hopefuls and their druggie pasts?

Andrea Leadsom: She’s the fourth Tory leadership candidate to admit having smoked “weed”.

Can somebody please tell me how having taken drugs in the past makes someone a better candidate to be the leader of the Conservative Party – let alone prime minister?

Jeremy Hunt was the first; he admitted taking a cannabis lassi (it’s a kind of drink made in India).

Then Rory Stewart said he took opium at a wedding in Iran, prompting speculation in some quarters that he was pre-empting a revelation – possibly by a rival.

And then the floodgates opened.

Boris Johnson took cocaine and cannabis at college. Can anybody say they’re surprised?

Dominic Raab has had cannabis, and so has Andrea Leadsom.

And Michael Gove took cocaine. In his confession, he went on at length about the drug’s harmful effects (“drugs damage lives”) and about his feelings on the subject now (“it is something I deeply regret”). This caused more rancour than the straight confessions of the others.

Green MP Caroline Lucas said it was “rank hypocrisy” to admit to “mistakes” while “backing policies that perpetuate harm”.

Crispin Blunt, chairman of the all-party parliamentary group for drug policy reform, said: “Michael has delivered a politically-crafted and deeply unconvincing hand-wringing statement of regret for committing a victimless crime. He should have used the opportunity to join a vital and urgent policy debate.”

Ex-Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron pointed out that all six “continue to back policies that send less fortunate folk to prison for the same thing. It’s disgusting”.

And current Lib Dem leadership hopeful Ed Davey observed: “They might all be historical confessions but the way this Tory leadership is going it’s like they’re all off their heads.”

That certainly appears to be the conclusion of the satirists, who have been having great fun concocting fictional pasts for other MPs. I particularly enjoyed the idea of Jacob Rees-Mogg having used camphorated tincture of laudanum with his nanny in 1899.

And apparently Larry the Downing Street Cat has admitted a continuing fondness for catnip. Well, why not?

In the interests of full disclosure, This Writer is happy to admit a long history of substance abuse including cocktails of diesel, metal polish and (when I can get it) Uranium-239. We journalists run on heavy fuel!

But there is a serious question here.

The issue of illegal drugs has been a major political football for decades. Remember the “war on drugs”? The lives of millions of people have been affected – many ruined – by organised drug-pushers; Michael Gove wasn’t wrong about that. And many people have been punished – sometimes jailed – simply for possession of certain substances.

And the hypocrisy of the mass media should also be taken into account. Remember the thunderous furore after Diane Abbott drank a mojito on a train? In comparison, we get hardly a whimper after people who may become prime minister confessed to serious historical crimes.

Against this background, it is right to question the attitude of these confessors. Let’s have a poll:

Source: Tory leadership hopeful Andrea Leadsom becomes 6th candidate to admit drugs past – Mirror Online

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Tories are working hard to make prisons ripe for privatisation – the rats are already there

What’s the line by the great Noam Chomsky about privatisation? “Defund, make sure things don’t work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital.”

HM Prison Bedford seems a textbook example of this behaviour.

According to reports in many newspapers (this one‘s from The Guardian), one inmate caught and killed multiple rats in his cell during an inspection, while another – who had disabilities – was in a cell with no adaptations and had been provided with a wheelchair that could not be self-propelled and was therefore almost utterly useless.

Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke reported that two years of efforts to improve standards had failed, and they were continuing to decline.

In addition to the references to the disabled prisoner and the rat-catcher, he also referred to cells as “filthy and decrepit” and warned that the toilets did not flush properly.

Self-harm had increased substantially and there had been five self-inflicted deaths since the previous inspection in 2016.

Almost half of prisoners surveyed said it was easy to get illicit drugs, and a fifth said that they had developed a drug problem while in the jail. The smell of cannabis and other burning substances pervaded some wings, with one officer saying: “If it’s just cannabis, it’s a good day.”

And there was a serious lack of control on the wings as prison officers were inexperienced and struggled to exert authority over prisoners who did not obey basic rules or conform to expected behaviour.

What happened to all the experienced staff, I wonder?

They were probably retired by the Ministry of Justice in a cost-cutting exercise.

Of course Tory cuts have caused the harm that we see. Bedford was reportedly an exemplary prison in 2008 – under a Labour government – but then the Tories turned up, cut funding to the bone, and chaos ensued. Bedford was the location of a riot involving 200 inmates in November 2016.

So we see a prison service drained of funds, that is no longer fit for purpose. It certainly doesn’t even try to rehabilitate inmates any more, meaning when sentences are served, hardened criminals are released onto our streets, who know that the punishment for getting caught is no longer any punishment at all.

It’s all part of the Tory crimewave.

So much for the party of law and order.

The Tories are also the party of privatisation, and some prisons – notably HMP Northumberland – have been handed over to private operators – Sodexo, in that instance.

The result? Disaster.

Prison officer numbers had been cut, meaning the authorities had lost control. An undercover reporter for Panorama revealed that prisoners had been sneaking out – unobserved – to collect drugs. They were treating prison like a holiday camp.

But that’s what happens when you hand over corrective services to organisations for which the only concern is profit.

Private companies don’t care about the conditions in which prisoners live. They don’t care if there aren’t enough prison officers to keep control – they’ll cut employee numbers in order to make their profit. They don’t care if prisoners get out and bring illegal substances back – it probably makes them easier to handle. They certainly don’t care if prisoners learn nothing from the experience and go back to crime on their release – it means they will stay in business when those people are caught.

But at what cost to communities?

Worst of all, your Conservative government doesn’t care either.

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Tories turned down ‘reasonable and practical’ drugs policy proposals – Baker

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Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat who quit his Home Office job earlier this year claiming it was “like walking through mud”, has released details of proposed drugs policy reforms that he says Home Secretary Theresa May suppressed.

When he left, he said the will “to take forward rational evidence-based policy” had been in “short supply”, referring in particular to a Home Office report published in October, which found “no obvious” link between tough penalties and levels of illegal drug use.

He has now outlined his backing for three suggestions which he said the Home Office had drawn up:

  • Treating addicts with prescribed heroin under clinical supervision
  • A “Portuguese model” in which those who commit minor drug offences are offered treatment rather than facing criminal charges
  • Medicinal use of cannabis for certain conditions.

Mr Baker said the Tories were unwilling to consider these “reasonable, practical and proportionate proposals”.

The Home Office, inevitably, has insisted that the current drugs strategy is working.

This writer disputes that claim in relation to these ideas.

While the proposal for prescribed heroin is not one on which Yr Obdt Srvt feels qualified to comment, the other two possibilities show definite merit. Certainly treatment would be better than locking people up in prison – unless the Tories feel obliged to fill all these private prisons they’ve been permitting, here there and everywhere?

And as for medicinal use of cannabis – why would anybody want to oppose the use of a drug to improve people’s health?

Every day we are learning more reasons to vote against the Conservatives in May.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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My part in the war on drugs

I found a suspicious looking plastic bag, filled with a finely-ground herbal substance, on the worktop in the kitchen just now.

“Here,” I called out to Mrs Mike. “What’s this?”

“Smell it,” was the answer.

So I did. Interesting aroma; kind of sweet. Nice. Mellowing. I recognised it.

But I said: “What d’you think would happen if the police came knocking and found this?”

This is not as far from the possible as it may seem. We used to have a bush growing by the front door that smelt suspiciously like a certain Grade B narcotic substance, that caused many a raised eyebrow among visitors until we eventually dug it up.

So picture the scene if you can: In come the coppers – Sergeant and Constable.

Sergeant: ‘Allo, ‘allo, ‘allo, wot’s all this then?

Constable: It’s a dodgy-lookin’ baggie, is wot it is, sir!

Sergeant: Well spotted, Constable! Now then, you: Wot’s in it?

Mrs Mike: Lavendar!

Sergeant: Oi’ve never ‘eard it called that before. Right, Constable! Take it to the lab for examination! And don’t you open that bag before I get there!

Next thing, they’d be after evidence from local contacts. As this bag was intended for a friend down the road, she’d be the first to be interviewed:

Friend: Yeah, I remember ‘ow it ‘appened. She turned up on my doorstep with the bag in her hand. ‘Smell this,’ she said. So I did. It smelt goooOOOOoood. So I said I’d ‘ave some. Next day she turned up with some more and before you knew it I had a floral monkey on my back!

We could even end up seeing reports about it on the TV news.

Newscaster: A new strain of narcotic drug is sweeping across Mid Wales, according to police. ‘Lavendar’ is the street name for the substance – a name derived from its sweet smell, which is believed to be the reason the drug is snorted, rather than smoked. It is believed to induce feelings of mellowness, serenity, and an urge to make potpourri.

This is Mike Sivier, your correspondent in the war on drugs, signing off – for now.