The Price of Cocaine


I am always intrigued about the quoted price of illicit products when they are sized.

Today, we have a news piece from the Royal Navy that 680kg of cocaine (that they recently seized) was worth an estimated street value of £100m

So how is that price derived, is it based on the value per gram to an end user or the wholesale price before adulteration and on which streets are we talking about?

A recent haul of exactly the same amount in the Dominican Republic was quoted as having a value of £40m, was this UK street prices or something else?

That is some difference and of course £100m sounds better than £40m

Frank reckons that the UK street price of cocaine is £43 per gram which would put a 680kg load at about £28.5m, certainly less than £40 and most very definitely less than £100m.

What purity though, is that at 50-70% pure or so far adulterated that it is down to 10%

The United Nations has the UK street price (2010) at just under £40 per gram which would seem to be roughly on par with the Government sponsored Frank website.

Wholesale trans-shipment, where the Royal Navy intercepted the supply chain, will of course have a lower price but likely higher purity.

Generally speaking, more questions than answers but when quoting the financial benefit of drugs interdiction perhaps the MoD should be a little more circumspect because on face value, it looks like someone is over egging the pudding**

** Accepting I know four fifths on nothing about how the figure was derived!

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153 Responses

  1. Yes, thats the document I linked to which puts 2010 UK street prices at $62 a gram, or about £40

    £40 per gramme x 680kg = <£30m A far cry from £100m If we use the UN UK Wholesale prices then that 680kg haul would cost $52 million Something to do with purity maybe Either that or unless the prices have changed significantly since 2010 I smell Monsieur Bullshit at work :)

  2. Who cares how much it is worth. it will now never be sold. 680kg of Coke that will not be ruining any lives. BZ Lancaster.

  3. Because in quoting values it allows comparisons to be made about the efficacy of spending money on interdiction this way.

    I am not knocking the ship, but questioning the PR value which with 5 minutes idle googling seems to be a bit dodgy

    As I said, am open to being corrected but it just smelled a bit cheese like

  4. Dunno about how they do it now, but in the 1990s we used to calculate such numbers based on what the street value would be after it had been adulterated with what ever crap the dealers would dilute it at each stage, or to put it another way we would pluck a figure out of the air that might sound good on the BBC World Service. The £100m figure suggests that SOCA and the MoD are following the old practice.

    The biggest shipment that I was involved in blocking was 6 tonnes of the muck. That was off of Tortola in December 1994 (they’d moved it up from St. Martin because the guards there wanted to go home for Christmas). Had to take chain saws to the bales before they would burn in the municipal incinerator, the stuff was so tightly packed, and the local Brit copper on secondment in charge of drugs enforcement got out of his head breathing in the dust.

  5. The street price is for “cut” (impure) cocaine.

    Anyway 680kg of cocaine represents about 600,000 lethal doses…

    …that’s if you believe the Internet, of course ;-)

  6. The 2 girls arrested in Peru were said to have Cocaine with a potential street value of £1.5 million. They had 11 kgs. Lancaster seized 61.81 times as much, 61.81 x 1.5 is 92.72. This however is higher than the 60kg of cocaine seized in Portsmouth in May which the BBC reported as having a street value of £60 million.

    So the price reported does vary. The final street value would be affected by purity. Cocaine bought at £40 a gram can be as low as 10% pure whilst £90 a gram buys you a much higher purity. So the value of 680KG would depend upon how pure it was when seized. The average purity seized at the border is 60%.

  7. TD
    Apols for reposting the same link, it must be the useless troll in me again….

    I note the purity adjusted weighted average is 190 eur/g in 2010 from the UNODC doc. This gives you >100M GBP for 680kg. I guess you could argue this is a reasonable thing to do given its unclear precisely which street /country a wholesale drugs bust was headed for….

    From a national perspective the falling street price in UK should give cause for concern. If all this good CN work by RN is valuable in reducing cocaine flow to UK, then it is strange that the price has halved between 1990-2010

  8. TD,

    Or the number of “lines” or “hits”?

    It would sound pretty good if they said: “The Royal Navy have today stopped about 10-million lines of coke appearing on the UK streets”.

    I have worked on 680kg being cut 50:50 (I think that would be good $h!t) into 1360kg of street grade coke and then 8 lines per gram.

    …again, all figures are from the wondeful world of Google.

  9. “The price of cocaine has been increased by one penny – Official”, to quote a David Low cartoon.

  10. Remind me again how many deaths from heroin each year? The cost to the UK? From where does the majority of it come? And could we have done something about interdicting the supply chain? You know perhaps by having several thousand armed personnel and helicopters in the country?

    Easy to play silly beggars with figures. As APATS says, BZ Lancaster!

  11. Christ on a bike, the dark blue are a bit touchy tonight :)

    All I was pointing out was the danger of bandying around values that might be called into doubt because that diminishes the actual and real value

    Wonder what would happen if this was an RAF story!

  12. The “street price” is never going to be a set figure. There are people at the upper end of the market (celebs, rich kids etc) who are paying significantly more for what they believe is very pure cocaine (give you three guesses how likely it is they get what they’re paying for). Conversely, as APATS mentioned, on the street in Liverpool you might be getting as low as 10% purity or less.

    Had a chat many years ago with some bobbys on the late night beat in Colchester. They were talking about the contents of one bars drug box. There were three bags of cocaine in it, none of which contained any cocaine whatsoever. So apparently Colchesters drug dealers are very, very tight with their product.

  13. @ Chris B,

    I hope the bar owners were therefore arrested for fraud… (I suspect this conversation could become a bit NT9O’CN, with Rowan Atkinson berating Griff Rhys Jones for arresting a man for wearing a loud shirt in a built up area)

    @ Twecky,

    ignoring the self-awarded tag of troll (what did you say to be accused of that? I missed it), I think you are actually onto a good metric for defining the national value of the counter-narcotic operations. Street value up or down by X% as measured against the £Cash spent on all counter-narcotic operations across all departments. (NOTE – that is not saying these operations should not go on if the street value keeps going down, as that is an entirely different judgement). Sub-analysis would also indicate whether it is better value to try to stop it close inshore to the UK or at airports, or reach across to Colombia or wherever and send in the Hereford Hooligans, or even to double up the numbers of Guard Ships if they are doing a great job.

    To make this a balanced analysis, the Government would need to settle on a single consistent measurement of value, as TD’s point about over-egging the pudding with a press release is very valid.

  14. ….there’s a book, can’t remember if by Freddy Forsyth or Giles Ambler in which a joint US/UK operation systematically takes out a cocaine cartel, at every stage along the supply chain. Read it on a beach somewhere – good trashy holiday reading, but it does contain a very thoughtful proposition.

  15. APATS, that’s the one. I particularly liked the concept of a couple of old rusty steamers being covertly converted to contain a troop of SBS and Delta Force, and the fact that whenever a shipment was seized, there was deliberately no publicity, thus sowing seeds of doubt, distrust and feelings that someone was double-dealing within the Cartel when the shipments failed to get through, and eventually civil war within the Cartel itself. Quite cunning, even if no doubt improbable in reality.

  16. I do have one question. Why hasn’t this blog got an Outrage Bus?

    If a third rate shonky outfit like Arrse can have one so should we. :)

  17. sorry, bit late on this one. In fact, I wrote an essay but forgot to put my email address in the right box hence lost the lot. I have spent much more of the past 4 years than I would like trying to establish reliable metrics for assessing progress in some of these difficult areas….

    Required reading is as follows: is a 2010 Home Of report on Cocaine use which – apart from not mentioning the RN once in its discussion of interdiction – has some useful facts and figures on UK usage. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addiction gives the most recent Europe wide stats. UK SOCA annual report 2012 is at

    The “northern route’ from the caribbean is estimated at providing 40% of the cocaine flowing into Europe (totalling 100-150T) The UK is estimated to be the 2nd biggest european market after Spain but SOCA estimates imports total only 25-30T per year so whatever RN is doing in the Caribbean is probably helping our european neighbours and not the UK. Strangely that didn’t make the press release.

    According to EMCDDA In 2010, the mean purity of cocaine ranged between 27 % and 46 % in half of the reporting countries. The lowest values were reported in Hungary Denmark and theUK. The mean retail price of cocaine ranged from EUR 49 /gram and EUR 74 /gram in most reporting countries in 2010. Between 2005-10 the retail price of cocaine in the European Union declined by an estimated average of 18 %

    SOCA estimates UK street purity at roughly 35% (ie higher than ECMDDA) while seizures at the border are at 75%. It also claims prices are stable at 45 GBP/g (although unclear whether wholesale or retail or adjusted for purity this is in line with EMCDDA above)

    The 2012/13 report claims a tonne of cocaine at the point of importation could, depending on purity, equate to between seven and 14 million street deals of cocaine at 20-40 GBP a deal. That’s not a really helpful range of possibilities IMHO !

    So using some of these figures let’s say 680kg of seized cocaine at 75% purity makes roughly 1500kg of street product. At 45 GBP/g this is 67.5M GBP.

    If we use the “number of deals” rule of thumb we get at least 4.75M deals from our 680kg and this is almost 100M GBP if we assume 20GBP/deal

    So overall as suggested by all the others you can make the figures add up to whatever you want. Whether this is effective use of high value UK assets is another question. Overall the evidence for efficacy UKs prevention / interdiction efforts is weak:

    The Home Office report concluded that although upstream interdiction appears to be a sound policy it was almost impossible to establish how successful this strategic approach has been in practice. More nuanced metrics are needed; seizures alone do not adequately measure the success of ‘upstream’ disruption of trafficking networks.

    On the other point of being suspicious about press releases I heartily agree. A recent excellent example is from ISAF where an assiduous journalist painstakingly compiled all the ISAF press releases which described senior level insurgents killed or captured in special forces missions. Over a period of time the totals claimed quickly became ludicrous and, once this was put to ISAF, required an embarrassing climb down along the lines of ‘ don’t believe the press releases, they are not intended to be entirely accurate’

    RT I am a troll apparently because I dared to disagree with APATS on the Deep Strike thread a few days back.

  18. I like Simons idea of reporting it in ‘lines’

    Does anyone know how much fuel, wages and other costs it takes to keep a ship like this in the area for x months?

    It always makes me wonder about APT(N) and why the MoD, RN and Government seem to cling to the idea like shit to a blanket.

    One could understand if a standing task was withdrawn someone asking about the number of ships v tasks so equally understandable wanting to keep it resourced

  19. “Does anyone know how much fuel, wages and other costs it takes to keep a ship like this in the area for x months?

    It always makes me wonder about APT(N) and why the MoD, RN and Government seem to cling to the idea like sh1t to a blanket”

    In that word you’ll probably hate – “presence”.

    What do you get with presence? You tend to get influence – many of the places in the ATP(N) AOR are either overseas territories or part of the Commonwealth. In some cases, they like one of HMs war canoes to rock up for a visit – it makes them feel valued. Those governments and populations also remember a lot of the voluntary things that ships companies tend to do when on deployment in the area, never mind the assistance rendered if there is a natural disaster or similar. It reminds people that the UK has still got the reach to operate there and remains “interested”. You also tend to get on the ground/water intelligence on the attitudes of nations / organistions in the area – you certainly get intel on narcotics trafficking among other things.

    In some ways, it’s also a retention issue. Matelots in general do not sign up to bimble around the UK exercise areas for a few weeks a year and the rest of the time indulging in the delights of Guz or Pompey. They join up to see the world – and APT(N) really does offer some fairly spectacular areas of the world to see. As an “independent” deployment, it’s also a test of the ships command and company – a sense of real responsibility, which you don’t necessarily get as part of a TG deployment.

    Finally there is also tremendous training value, partly related to the “independent” element above, but also working with the navies and coastguards of disparate nations. The ships on that deployment are constantly practising surface and air picture compilation, target identification and tracking for real and are doing it in a real Combined environment. Remember that much of the UK exercise programme is just to get ships and their crews to a level where they can execute tasks. To keep the ship at that level and maintain those skills they have to be used on a regular basis, which is harder to do alongside or in UK ExAreas.

    As for cost, it’s primarily marginal. Ship is paid for, crew is paid for, part of the fuel is paid for (you wouldn’t be alongside shut down all the time if you were in the UK). There will be marginal costs in additional fuel, food, stores, transport of people to the area etc and you’ll use more engine hours than you would alongside in the UK. Other than that, I can’t really think of many – you’d still need to refit your ship at Lloyds intervals (if in Class) so no real change there either. If the marginal cost is more than £1m per deployment, I’d be surprised.

    It’s almost as if that’s what navies are for………..

  20. Actually NaB, quite the opposite, I am a great advocate of going forth and getting amongst our allies, before you started commenting there was a whole series on just such a subject.

    Twecky and I are just questioning the value of having a high value asset doing this in the area when the constant drip drip of complaint is of ‘not enough frigates’

    In short, are there other ways of achieving the same end state that frees up valuable assets for other stuff

    I dunno, maybe the RN isn’t as short of surface vessels as it makes out :)

    The retention argument is an interesting one, will have to remember that one the next time you lot are banging on about 5* hotels and separated service intervals

  21. NAB,

    I too like the idea of presence. However, the difficulty is showing the benefit in terms the rest of Government understands.

    The “we have one anyway so there’s minimal marginal cost in sending it to the caribbean/adventure training/norway/Royal Tournament” hasn’t worked in the past across Defence so I would be reluctant to rely on it in the future. If it was all about training why not support NATO SNMG 1 or SNMG 2 which we have not done for a while (in fact,, wasn’t that part of the rationale in using an RFA for APT(N) , to free up a warship ?)

    I also don’t think that the MOD can unilaterally opt out of the metrics game. I share with TD a bit of unease that MOD press releases focus on seizures and street value when such methods have been so recently criticised by the Home Office. It’s time to be a bit smarter. For example, I was only half joking when I suggested in earlier post that the RN should make more of the pan-European benefit of the APT(N) drugs busters. Especially since on paper it looks like the RN are not supporting other alliance/partnership tasks and preferring to do APT(N)

  22. NAB

    I like the idea of, early intervention presence and cooperating with allies too. The challenge is to demonstrate its benefit (either in absolute terms or compared to other options)

    I don’t think the “marginal costs are low because we’ve got one already” argument works. APT(N) task could be fulfilled by an OPV or RFA, the clever thing is to argue why it has to be a big warship. Or why we do APT(N) instead of supporting NATO SNMGs.

    I share TD’s concern that RN press office fixation on drugs seizures and notional street values isn’t helping to make the case for APT(N), especially as we know from te Home Office report that HMG finds these metrics unconvincing too…

  23. Then clearly (if you appreciate the value), you shouldn’t use phrases like “It always makes me wonder about APT(N) and why the MoD, RN and Government seem to cling to the idea like sh1t to a blanket”.

    More seriously, the comments re shortage of surface units tends to be couched in terms of how do we fill our MT and retain enough capacity to do contingency ops? What that means is that in the event we had to do a contingency op, we would have to either gap a task/commitment or send less than we would like on the contingent op. Don’t forget, Cougar 13 does not include an AAW ship in a task group deployment. Part of that is because the hulls are bieng worked harder (same tasks, more contingencies, fewer hulls) and are also aging (T45 excepted). In fact were we off to war, we’d gap the task, where able.

    Those who advocate the hi/lo mix suggest that APT(N) (and indeed KIPION “pirate chasing”) could be better done by a light frigate, heavy OPV of some sort, but the reality is that said ship would not be an “additional” hull, but rather a lower capability substitute – the intention being that the “high” capability ship would be sitting in home waters ready to deploy at a moments notice for contingency ops.

    That has two downsides – firstly, the overall capability of your fleet drops (and does not recover) and secondly, the ships companies that are constantly stuck in home waters with the odd deployment thrown in might not see that as seeing the world. Which might make your high capability ships, somewhat difficult to man. There is an obvious analogy here with what the proposed army restructuring looks like………

    As for 5* hotels and SSI, I suspect you’ll find that the banging on about it is largely due to perceptions of how efficient that makes force structures in relative terms .

  24. Twecky Spat says “APT(N) task could be fulfilled by an OPV or RFA, the clever thing is to argue why it has to be a big warship. ”


  25. (unadulterated) Cocaine apparently costs about 40pence per gram to produce, sells for £40 (with added crap).

    If the treasury had any sense they’d get into the drugs trade. There’s an enormous mark-up on the cost of this illicit drug; with legalisation of the trade, Osborne could slash import costs and replace most of the street value with tax without customers noticing any change.

    Transport and shipping cost per tasty portion of nose candy would be fairly negligible as a legally exported commodity – you can fit a few thousand kilos into a TEU, as opposed to a few grams in a stomach or up an arse’ole. There’d be some insurance costs necessary for such a valuable cargo, and you’d expect the South Americans to levy a not inconsiderable export tax, but UK tax revenue off each shipment would still be quite a hefty percentage.

  26. “The price of cocaine has been increased by one penny – Official”, to quote a David Low cartoon.

    Pretty much the best summary of this story. I will never understand why it’s apparently a core mission for our (not very large) Royal Navy to try to make it ever so slightly more expensive for people to make themselves feel good in a certain very specific way. The whole War on Drugs concept is lunatic (original concept from the manic speed addict Richard Nixon, which says it all really), and at least this isn’t the most lunatic part of it, but that doesn’t make it a good idea. We’ve bought into this delusional American approach at the expense of our own people. British drug policy used to be relatively enlightened and sane, and as a result there were a few hundred hard drug users in the entire country in the early sixties, and now after forty years of the War On Drugs there are about 300,000.

  27. Transport and shipping cost per tasty portion of nose candy would be fairly negligible as a legally exported commodity – you can fit a few thousand kilos into a TEU

    Now there’s a man who knows his audience :)

  28. Rhubarb

    Is that your attempt at brevity

    Then clearly (if you appreciate the value), you shouldn’t use phrases like “It always makes me wonder about APT(N) and why the MoD, RN and Government seem to cling to the idea like sh1t to a blanket”.

    Yes Mum


    No need to replace shit with sh1t

    We are all grown ups here

  29. x

    Apologies, I thought APT(N) had already been filled by RFA Argus and one of the Waves on separate occasions. Is that Rhubarb ?

  30. @ Twecky Splat

    The assertion that an RFA or an OPV is enough is rhubarb.

    @ TD re brevity.

    Yes. :)

    I do do brevity on occasion.

    EDIT: I am just not in the right place to teach Seapower 101 today.

  31. x, I am seriously not trying to bait you but it’s not really me you will have to explain Seapower 101 to.

    You say using a less capable ship for APT(N) :

    … has two downsides – firstly, the overall capability of your fleet drops (and does not recover) and secondly, the ships companies that are constantly stuck in home waters with the odd deployment thrown in might not see that as seeing the world. Which might make your high capability ships, somewhat difficult to man. …

    Now that IS rhubarb

    What I see is a fairly regular flow of port visits, hurricane relief and drugs busts reported from the APT(N) . Without smart ways of showing how much more effectively these things are done by an escort than by an RFA then it will be hard to make a compelling case to treasury that RN needs the more expensive and capable vessel.

  32. TD – I’d defer to no-one in my command of industrial english. There are other reasons why typing certain words online is not clever.

    My point was not about what was clinging to the blanket, it was more to do with if you appreciated the value of presence, why did you have to wonder why MoD, RN. HMG think APT(N) is important.

  33. The assumption that a smaller, cheaper ship assigned to tasks in the Caribbean would necessarily mean the loss of a more warlike frigate or destroyer is wrong.

    A ship designed for a non-combat role, and permanently assigned to a particular regional task would be so inappropriate for major war roles that it could not be considered to be filling the boots of a T26 or T45 in any way whatsoever. Any decision to have a permanent presence under those conditions would naturally mean an additional to other vessels, not a replacement. It’s just people’s paranoia speaking.

  34. You’ve never had to deal with HMT, have you Brian?

    Aside from anything else – you still have to man the vessel from a fixed manpower pool (because that’s where the costs really lie). It’s actually more demanding on manpower to be conducting MIO and boarding ops on a sustained basis than it is for some warfighting roles. So you still end up with less vessels rather than more.

    That’s not paranoia – it’s empirical testing.

  35. NAB

    OK – so it’s all about the fixed manpower pool.

    A Duke Class T23 has a complement of 185. A River Class OPV has 30 (perhaps more realistically the Dutch Holland class has 54), So forgetting the build costs you can have 3 or 4 of them within the same manpower pool.

    Now I never said you could/should have OPVs as well as the current number of escorts. What i said was that UK MOD needs to start making a better case for why we use highly capable escorts for APT(N) when a less capable vessel can (and does) fulfil the task. I am still waiting for a good argument (n #ot counting rhubarb)

  36. Except that neither River or Holland can sustain MIO and boarding ops to the same degree (great for fishery patrol, less so for more demanding tasks), nor can they provide anything like the capability when you’re doing disaster relief. The future benchmark is going to be T26 with 120 bods, not T23 with 180.

  37. And of course you still end up with a ship that you can’t deploy anywhere where there is a significant threat if you needed to, as opposed to being able to take a capable ship off task to go warfighting when needed.

    The direct analogy is that you don’t actually need Typhoon for UK QRA. You could do the job just as well with a larger number of Mosquito/Mustang/Skyraider/Sea Fury to get over the supersonic/coverage issue.

  38. The main trouble with West Indies Station (ha! pre-WIGS… :) ) is the MoD(N) doesn’t have a HNLMS Pelikaan or BATRAL class in place with disaster relief equipment onboard.

    Imagine the RLC taking delivery of a class of 4 2,500t LST a la Go Jun Bung. Too exciting for a Thursday I know. Seeing as hurricane damage is on land surely it is a job for the Wedgeheads and for the RLC to support them?

    @ Brian Black

    I know what you are saying. But it is a bit hypothetical. I could equally say with no proof that an OPV for APT(N) could lead to that being the base standard for the Fleet. The Dutch send proper ships. The Holland class aren’t an OPV in the same way as our River class are OPV; the former are more sophisticated corvettes. If we had a T23 or even a T45 on APT(N) and it was needed elsewhere at short notice it could move. Remember Clyde isn’t tasked with APT(S). Frigates and upwards are self deploying assets with near global reach. Tying up a RFA is probably worse than using a frigate; RFA’s are force multipliers that are the foundation of the Fleet. APT(N) is reinforcing UK sovereignty, sustaining Commonwealth ties, and contributing to the UK’s international relations effort in a region that may be relatively benign but is complex in terms of actors both state and non-state all within a complex maritime environment. A secondary fleet of OPVs is a luxury we choose not to afford; a clutch of BAM would be wonderful. A frigate can do everything an OPV can do, but the reverse isn’t true It is a good training opportunity. A frigate is a better fit for the job than a squadron of FJ in the COIN role. I know we laugh at the cocktail party but it is a tool of diplomacy; it sells Britain just at the Red Arrows sell Britain. A frigate in a distant corner of the world may not be as glamourous as Hawks tearing around the sky. But at the end of the day the frigate is probably better value and more worth. Purely in terms of population APT(N) as a garrison afloat is a lot smaller and cheaper than the others.

  39. NAB

    OF COURSE an OPV is not as capable as a T23. I understand that. The thread is all about the costs and benefits of APT(N) CN task and using a T23 to fulfil it. If you equate 3 of these OPV (or even just 3 crews for 2 craft) instead of a T23 each OPV doesn’t need to be as capable. Let’s not bring HA into it as the most capable option for that is probably an RFA.

    But you are presenting a circular argument in any case. If you use less capable craft for less demanding tasks they don’t need to be retasked for contingency ops; that’s what your escorts are for. If you need to find jobs for T23s at any moment they aren’t required for contingency ops don’t call it a Standing Task.

  40. Surely we build out fleet depending on what we need for a) war, and b) to service our military requirements in peacetime.

    What any extra ships are used for in peacetime is then just best use of resources.

    So, for example:

    a) The fleet requires 6 escorts (with 6 more able to relieve them every two months at 10,000nm reach) so requires 18-19 escorts (say).
    b) We need to service a response force (consisting of the FRE and TAPS along with various capital ships) we need to field a presence in the Gulf, a presence in the South Atlantic and a presence in the North Atlantic. We also need to field a ship to NATO (say).

    Now, the number of ships required for b) may be less than those required for a), but it would be a waste to not use the extras for something useful. Furthermore it would be madness to “size” the fleet based on our peacetime taskings (e.g. chasing pirates and drug lords) and not have enough high-capability ships when the balloon goes up.

    It is only when the requirements for b) get higher than those for a) that the extra ships can be “specced” specifically for their peacetime military role (e.g. OPVs, corvettes, humanitarian logistics ships).

    As it stands the size and number of our ships is defined by our requirement to field a credible escort force for our carriers and amphibious shipping.

  41. Here is a question for you dark blue types.

    Did you read the post on Haiti?

    What RN/RFA ship was on APT(N)?

    Largs Bay doesn’t count, that was after

  42. Prohibition can’t work. In fantasy land, even if the RN was 100% effective at preventing any of the stuff from being imported there is still the domestic production in the UK so the best that could be done is make it more expensive.

    The absolute easiest way of preventing this and destroying the drugs trade would be to destroy the trade through economics. Make those drugs available on the NHS at a pharmacy, and watch the distributors rapidly go out of business as they can’t profitably compete with either very low cost/free.

    Organised crime would get a nasty budget cut, and crime fuelled by people robbing for their fix would be quite significantly reduced.

    Then the government could slowly creep up taxes on it like they do with fuel…

  43. @TD

    None, Iron Duke and Fort George left at the end of 2009 and were not immediately replaced. The decision was made as the Hurricane season had ended and assets were as usual in short supply. Talk about getting it wrong.

  44. Simon

    Logic is great, Can’t fault it.

    However UK define APT(N) not as “something to do with our escorts when they aren;t engaged on contingency tasks” but as a standing commitment to protect the interests of UK overseas territories in Caribbean , contribute to multinational CN and bpt provide HA/disaster relief.

    What you are saying in effect is there is no difference between a standing commitment and another task. I don’t think that;s true. if you are right, we would expect to see APT(N) gapped on occasions when our other contingency requirements surge . But it isn;t (stand fast the RFA fill-ins for a moment)

    In fact, it’s worse than that. We allocate a T23 or similar to APT (N) at the expense of supporting the standing NATO Maritime Groups /NRF. ( SNMG 1 and 2). If we say that the purpose of APT(N) is to provide good training for contingency ops then arguable that;s equally or better provided by working in MN groups across the full range of combat tasks , not just doing CN

    Now, I don’t want to bash the RN, Honestly. But the logic of using a major surface combatatnt for APT(N) is flawed and will be seen through by HMT sooner rather than later., This thread started out debating what the value of CN ops like the one just completed by LANCASTER are. All I am saying that if you allocate a cheaper asset to the task, its much much easier to argue it provides vfm. And if you want to say allocating a T23 gives you more “presence” then best we come up with clever ways of assessing and describing what that value is.

  45. APATS, thanks for that

    And yet arguably, Largs Bay made a greater practical contribution by sailing from the UK than either Iron Duke or Fort George would have done if they were actually there.

    My point is a Type 23 frigate does not really add much in the disaster relief department.

  46. When they catch go-fasts and get these hauls, they offload to an RFA vessel… why cant the RFA do it then?

    Sad reality is for every one catch they get, many slip on by. High profile, but what is the level of deterrence? Is the RN warship the reason for Colombian drug subs/semi-subs? Nope, that’s thanks to USCG go-fasts and aviation working together. The RN being there is just another small – but welcome – contribution to cover the area. If we were serious in combating this then we’d be working more with the Caribbean authorities.

    Regardless, I support the deployment, but to pump out propaganda that its all about anti-drug work is false. As people have shown here, the deployment is way more than just chasing around speed boats.

  47. @TD

    That is why we are very relaxed about the platform that is used as APT(N). The comparably large crews and specialties found onboard an FF/DD in comparison to an RFA make it desirable to have one on station during hurricane season. Otherwise the required capabilities are an organic rotary wing asset, the ability to host a USCG team and a boarding team augmented by RM sniper teams.
    HMS Ocean was massively effective in 2007 utilising SKaSAC in combination with Merlin.

    I think that half the decision to gap SNMG 1 and SNMG2 is to do with their op cycles. One or the other is permanently E of Suez providing the core of TF 508. They rotate every 6 or 7 months. The other basically participates in the big NATO exercises. So it does, Joint warrior then Baltops followed by Proud Manta in the Med. Any operational tasking is almost exclusively in support of Op Active Endeavour. So really little presence in the Atlantic.

  48. twecky,

    Unfortunately the reality is that the RN are being asked to do too much with too little. The tasks I listed are only about 1/2 of what the RN are supposed to conjour up which is why they “gap” here and there.

    This is where APATS can inform you.

    Why we use a T23 for APT(N) at the expense of “gapping” the NRF is likely down to the reality of what is needed for the various missions. It may require a copter, a hangar and command facilities or maybe a lot of kit, an LCU and a crane. I must admit, without first hand knowledge I really can’t say.

  49. Let’s not forget the population of the BOT’s in the area is approximately 200,000.

    And the first duty of the state is defend its people.

    A frigate may be only a token defence, but considering that that population is spread over a considerable geographical area, a good ship, a self deploying asset that is capable of addressing a wide range of threats is probably the way to go.

  50. RN warships do not maintain and improve their operational effectiveness ‘edge’ by occasionally dusting off the tactical pubs and putting to sea for exercises in UK waters or by being assigned to multi-national forces for a few months. It is a continuous, unrelenting process that has to take into account the full gamut of likely scenarios, changes in the threat, modifications in equipment and tactics, and the constant turnover of key personnel. Although seldom reported, RN DD/FF deployed on APT(N) benefit from premier league multi-threat training with American forces (unlike us, they can still spare the odd couple of SSNs and MPA for such tasks) and use the opportunity to conduct weapons and tactical development trials using the comprehensive air, surface and sub-surface ranging facilities at AUTEC.

    During a single North Atlantic deployment in which I was involved, our frigate and helo conducted tactical development and weapons systems trials at AUTEC, undertook maritime operations with forces from the USA, Canada, the Netherlands, France, Colombia and Venezuela, and strengthened relations with local authorities and agencies through personnel exchanges and liaison visits. Apart from performing counter-drug smuggling operations, we transported BWI police and assisted them in putting down a local insurrection on Grand Turk, provided humanitarian relief to Haiti and stopped the potentially catastrophic sinking of an abandoned fully-laden oil tanker which had suffered an engine room fire and explosion causing serious flooding. Our embarked Royal Marine detachment also ‘invaded’ Montserrat.

    The range and degree of operational experience, system performance data and regional intelligence gained during such singleton patrols, and subsequently shared with others, is unequalled in any other peacetime situation. As previously mentioned, such deployments also help with retention in providing motivation for those who joined the Navy to see the world. The premature loss of so many expensively trained, skilled and experienced personnel, despite all the golden handcuffs on offer, is currently a major concern in the RN.

    Finally, anyone who believes we would be allowed to acquire some smaller, less capable patrol vessels without sacrificing even more of our dwindling number of DD/FF is definitely living in cloud cuckoo land. Never has “use them or lose them” been as valid as it is today.

  51. APATS – thanks for the info on SNMG – that does make sense. Shame, though IMHO. Likewise I can see an embarked helo etc for Hurricane Season makes sense (I am less convinced by the other specialities offered by a FF/DD crew for a HA task… preumably there are a few PWOs and sonar ops in that 185 total, maybe they were all plumbers and brickies in civvie street ?)

    Simon : it is precisely because the RN seem to be trying to do too much with too little that this thread has veered off course somewhat. I mildly hijacked TD’s inital post to ask if it is worth using a FF/DD on CN ops in particular and APT(N) in general. I personally didn’t find the answers offered (good training, retention, allows retasking to contingency op etc) overall make a persuasive case. Other nations (eg, Fra (Floreal), NL (Holland class)) meet similar tasks at long range/duration with smaller ships. Yes I know these aren’t real FF/DDs but they have helos, guns on the front and maintain more presence than RN can becasue there are more of them. I personally find the logic they apply to analysing the requirement is more compelling.


    I can’t possibly argue about your deep personal experience of the training undertaken on APT(N). But if the training is so good, why doesn’t the MOD annual report, or the press guff, actually say anything about it. Usually they are positively incontinent about any good news story.

    I say again, it’s not me that the RN has to fight to maintain an FF/DD in the APT(N) role, it’s HMT, and I think we need to sharpen up our arguments rather than simply saying “We don’t do corvettes” which I fear is a large part of the (unspoken) rationale

  52. Don’t do corvettes? I’m still scratching my head over you guys using a Naval vessel for what is essentially a police job! :)

    My question is: “How long can the navy ship stay there?”. Policing is a persistant, lifelong job. You can’t just turn up for 6-8 months, then go away and expect the situation to improve when there is a consistant background crime rate. You need a permanant in-place organisation to handle policing work.

  53. “The absolute easiest way of preventing this and destroying the drugs trade would be to destroy the trade through economics. Make those drugs available on the NHS at a pharmacy, and watch the distributors rapidly go out of business as they can’t profitably compete with either very low cost/free.”

    In fact, that’s exactly what we used to do in this country. That’s why we didn’t have a drug problem.

  54. @ twottysplat re “But if the training is so good, why doesn’t the MOD annual report, or the press guff, actually say anything about it. ”

    The fact that everybody here who knows their transom from their Mk8 knows about value of APT(N) formerly WIGS formerly the West Indies Station sort of suggests that the MoD is aware of it too. That you don’t know such isn’t really our fault. Measuring reality and value against your own ignorance on the matter and their blaming others for that doesn’t say much. Further everybody here who knows their transom from their Mk8 knows that HMT has to be placated, that isn’t news. The RN has little to no agency when it comes to what we will call for convenience its budget. The RN has little to no agency when it comes to what we call for convenience its programme. The BOT’s belong to, if they are one government’s department’s property, the F&CO. I would suggest you direct their ire to them over budgetary concerns. As for the suitability of frigate for hurricane relief again everybody heres knows that in terms of heavy equipment and large scale relief they are of no value. Again this isn’t the RN’s problem. If F&CO were truly interested in investing in disaster relief then a more suitable non-RN vessel would be in service during hurricane season. I would suggest that dealing with large scale land based emergencies outside the UK in the BOT’s is more a job for the Army.

    I am going to leave commenting on you use of the word corvette there is only so much numpitness I can take in one day and it is only 10:20.

  55. @a: I don’t think criminals are suddenly going to discover legal work if drugs are legalized. 20% plus of the perfectly legal fags in this country are imported illegally, so I suspect there are plenty of opportunities to smuggle or sell to minors for example. Do you think cocaine will be sold under a lower tax rate than tobacco?

    Moreover, I can see legal issues with selling items like heroin. After all, there are restrictions to what even doctors can proscribe: why should basically the same stuff be available freely? And what happens when your local pharmacy sells something that is used in an overdose? I doubt they’ll be queueing up for the business :-(

  56. @tweckyspat

    “…I can’t possibly argue about your deep personal experience of the training undertaken on APT(N). But if the training is so good, why doesn’t the MOD annual report, or the press guff, actually say anything about it?”

    – Because training is routine, boring stuff RN units, departments and individuals do all the time? There are even lists of exercise serials to achieve and tick off on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual basis, whatever the mission being conducted at the time.

  57. Up until the 1950s wasn’t it? A real change in policy since then. I do remember doing some reading about Escobar, i’m not sure how different it is now, but the shear volume meant it seemed that all the interception efforts seemed to do little more than nibble at the edges. Even after spending money like water, they were still making so much money they had no idea how much was coming in. I know its a bit wider of a question, I wonder hoe much good we are doing

  58. x

    “The fact that everybody here who knows their transom from their Mk8 knows about value of APT(N)”

    No – you claim it has value, I am not alone in questioning your claim. I don’t think you need to be quite so sensitive about things. Anyone would think you had something to hide….

    “Again this isn’t the RN’s problem….I am going to leave commenting on you use of the word corvette there is only so much numpitness I can take in one day ”

    And that patronising attitude I suspect is precisely why it is an RN’s problem and why there is a constant drip drip drip about having too few of almost everything…

    In partiicular WTF is wrong with the word corvette ? Other navies are quite happy to use it, it seems to be a completely sound descriptor in general usage for something smaller than a DD/FF but larger than an OPV but of course it is simply guaranteed to get your goats..

  59. Chasing drug runners and providing disaster relief are about doing things either because they are simply decent things to do, or they raise our standing in the eyes of other nations.

    They’re not done in the west Atlantic with frigates and destroyers because of any training requirement, or a need to defend overseas territories (no one is going to invade Bermuda the moment we look the other way, X). And “use them or lose them” is not valid, Dunservin; if we had a Pelikaan style logistics ship permanently deployed in the Caribbean the Navy would not be scratching its head wondering what to do with all the frigates it has. If we had half a dozen more full-fat warfighting escorts in the fleet, we would not run out of training opportunities or operational deployments. Nor does the presence of a regionally based vessel stop the Navy from visiting with other ships, as our little gun boat in the Falklands shows.

    The government puts a value on our do-gooding, with the overseas aid budget, at a billion quid per month. And we’re so nice, that half of that cash is given to third parties, like the UN, EU or WHO to spend on our behalf, meaning that we don’t even get any flag waving propaganda from our generosity.

  60. @tweckyspat

    “…And that patronising attitude I suspect is precisely why it is an RN’s problem and why there is a constant drip drip drip about having too few of almost everything…”

    No. What’s patronising is:

    a. Demanding that others justify themselves to you.
    b. Expecting them to spoon-feed you information to overcome your woeful self-imposed ignorance.
    c. Accusing them of hiding things because they refuse to confirm your pre-conceived notions.

  61. OK OK guys, how about someone volunteers to write a post explaining the benefits of maintaining APT(N) for all the reasons discussed, why it should still be a standing task and why it is platform agnostic as long as it is anything except corvette!


  62. @ Brian Black

    Are you sure about Bermuda? :)

    I think in the UK we have a different attitude towards “physical security” than many states. Look at Gibraltar and the current troubles. We have a bobbies vs a paramilitary force. As Phil points out we don’t do troops on British streets (excepting Ulster). We don’t do home guards like the Scandinavians. We haven’t been invaded since 1066. In a way it is good because this attitude is indicative of our sense of security and stability that other nations don’t enjoy. Yes we are proud of and recognise the need for our armed forces, but for the most part they all get on with the job in a very self-effacing manner. But that security is still there. Ships still ply oceans watching friend as much as foe; a lot goes on that the masses don’t know about. Simply the Caribbean BOT need defending and a self-deploying unit with good sensors and a helicopter that can cover the territory is the best way to do it. The biggest cost is bunkers and crew. Thing is if that platform was needed elsewhere in an emergency it could weigh anchor and go. It is about utility, high endurance, and global reach; something the other two services can’t replicate. I never see here arguments for the RAF to fly Tucano or for the Army to move about in Transit minibuses.

    On the part of some here I think there is a complete lack, not deliberate or pernicious, of understanding here about what the RN does and doesn’t do.

  63. I was going to round off my previous comment with something about the value of ‘soft power’ alone, but you get the idea.

    NAB, “…nor can they [dinky little shiplets] provide anything like the capability when you’re doing disaster relief. The future benchmark is going to be T26 with 120 bods, not T23 with 180.”

    There was a filmmaker on HMS Chatham (T22) when it went to Sri Lanka to assist after the 2004 tsunami. What was evident was how ineffective their manpower alone was.

    A frigate is not set up to deal with events like this. You can have the best ship’s crew in the world, but they won’t necessarily have skills relevant to a particular disaster area. Manpower is also very inefficient and prone to tiring quickly, which is why folks invented trucks, forklifts, JCBs and other hardware – non of which will be found on your average frigate.

    On that particular occasion, I think it was Chatham’s MO that said what they really needed were Landrovers to get about inland. The only transport they had was a little Lynx which was busily used for reconnaissance, lifting fairly small loads of emergency supplies, and some small crew movements, as much as its maintenance requirement allowed.

    If it was worthwhile to keep a vessel in the Caribbean to help in times of hurricanes or earthquakes or whatever, then it’s materiel you need, not manpower. People can be shifted across the Atlantic pretty quickly. Disaster teams and specialist operators can be mobilised quickly in the UK, but the first responders need things like light trucks and trailers or plant in order to be effective.

    If that’s one of the primary reasons for being there, then that’s certainly not a platform agnostic requirement.

  64. @BB

    Agree with most of that. And what we need to look for is an alignment between war role and peacetime role.

    A largish LSD with an RFA crew and an a hanger would be ideal for the presence, counter narcotics, flag waving, disaster relief elements of APT(N). it has the advantage that it has a genuine wartime role that might be required once per decade, during which the APT(N) task could be gapped.

    A covette sized ship would lack the endurance and logisitc capacity needed for the task. Sea keeping would be questionable in really rough weather. And it isn’t fighty enough to have a wartime role – which makes it as vulnerable to HMT as to the Queen’s enemies.

    And I agree that the size of the DD/FF fleet is defined by the wartime need and not by the peactime tasks. So any warship freed up by the deployment of an LSD in the Carribean could still go train with the Americans, do NATO patrols, train with the RTFG, visit Gibralter, Bahrain, Singapore or wherever else we needed to show a more warlike ‘presence’.

  65. @ X, “We haven’t been invaded since 1066”

    Err… Glorious Revolution? 1688. Apparently, that was a pivotal event in getting the Andrew to become the premier sea-going force for the next 250 years, thus leading to the Empire etc. And so “a good thing”. Also the 1689 Bill of Rights followed.

    Also, various Welsh and Scottish incursions followed on from 1066, including the Scots getting as far as Derby in 1745 (although technically by then they were part of the UK, even if some didn’t want to be). Having visited Derby, I can see why they went home afterwards. Grotty place.

    If you add together the years (eg 1871+1940+…..etc etc etc) in which the French have been invaded by various neighbours, you end up with 20,457, which is an amusing little factoid. And the Dutch still haven’t given back the slice of France that they nicked in 1648 and which is now northern Belgium, and Belgium only exists because the Francophone Walloons in 1830 didn’t want to be part of the United Provinces but also didn’t want to become part of France again, nor did the French want them back, and post-Boney, no one wanted to help the French sort their little problems out.

  66. @RT – Bearing in mind the fact that WilliamandMary were invited to come in 1688, not so much an invasion more external support for a Coup D’etat I’d say…although any Jacobites hereabouts would no doubt take a different view; quite right about the political importance of the event though…not least because an argument can readily advanced that it opened the way for our last Civil War, the one we conducted in North America about a hundred years later…


  67. @tweckyspat
    I suspect one of the reasons that people are being a little short with you is that this kind of stuff has been so thoroughly thrashed out in the past on TD. I can’t find the exact post I’m looking for where the idea of replacing a couple of T26 for OPVs was most discussed, I think it was one of the guest pieces in the wake of TD’s big SIMSS series (which you might want to look at as well) :

    But those and these give you a flavour of where we’ve been before :

    You come to different conclusions if you look at the fleet as a whole rather than looking at a single task or a single design, and there’s obviously a tension between using presence type tasks as a training exercise for “proper” warships versus having cheaper ships doing it full time. We’re probably at the stage where you could justify some smaller presence ships, but not enough of them to really make economic sense thanks to the powerful forces of economies of scale on these things. Having said that, you could argue that in effect we are now using the Bay class where we used to use Type 22’s, so to that extent we have already replaced “proper warships” with cheaper, largely civilian manned ships. Certainly it seems that small LPDs are probably the best answer for a lot of HA/DR type missions and MSO, whilst also retaining a useful role in high-end warfare – it’s a real shame that we got rid of Largs, and that the Bays don’t have the proper aviation facilities of their continental sisters.

  68. re; UK Invasions,

    There’s been many. Many. Since 1066. There was 6 or 7 alone during the wars of the roses.

  69. wf: drug legalisation’s a big topic and this probably isn’t the best forum. But, historically, medicalising drug addiction – prescribing drugs for addicts through the NHS – worked, and the War on Drugs hasn’t. I’m not suggesting selling cocaine and heroin over the counter. I would imagine that cocaine would be far less heavily taxed than tobacco – most prescribed drugs are not heavily taxed, this would be no different. As for overdoses, pharmacies already sell plenty of drugs that are used in overdoses. Paracetamol, for example.

  70. Gents,

    How many of the CTFs (150, 151, 158 and “Operation Atalanta”) do we submit to at any one time?

    Is our role geneally fixed within these or do we all swap about?

    Same question about the role in the NRF.


  71. @ RT

    Um. I wasn’t aware that in 1688 the Dutch aristocracy completely replaced the English aristocracy, imposed Dutch as the official language of the Kingdom, and in 1690 set out to lay waste of the north to subjugate it.

    Dynastic coup d’etats don’t really count as invasions. The peasantry wouldn’t really care too much. And none of those landings would impact them as much as say the Reformation, the English Civil Wars, or the Agrarian and Industrial Revolutions.

    You could argue I suppose that the state in a way was the political centre and not the entire population and the territory in which they live. You could equally argue prior to the Reformation that Europe was a Catholic commonwealth and that the earthly affairs of kings were only one component of society and therefore not of total importance to the functioning of the state; a good portion of whose territory was held by the Church (capital C).

    But to argue say Henry Tudor landing in Wales compared with William the Bastard’s invasion is to stretch things a little bit And though Henry shook the state up a bit he didn’t complete replace the whole kit and kaboodle.

  72. @ GNB


    @ El Sid & Brian Black

    Yes some form of small amphibian or specialist cargo ship would be preferable for hurricane relief as I said further up. But that is only part of the job.

  73. For me the “Patrol Boat or Frigate” Question is a jurisdictional, organisational and funding one…to which the correct answer is “Coastguard”…integrated with and underpinned by the RN…funded by DfID, the law enforcement budgets, the BOTs themselves, and the FCO…I look forward to hearing from Defence with a C on the subject (or something like it) in due course.

    @x – Surprising numbers of Norman Knights married Saxon widows and orphansl and the old Saxon ruling class was at least as much assimilated as exterminated…we only got really good at wholesale slaughter in the last Century…with the obvious exception of the Mongols, who did go in for it…


  74. @x

    Top post at 17:57, Mr X . In regard to you final point in paragraph 3, as short a time ago as the early 1970s the church (i.e. the CofE) was still the second biggest land owner in England, it probably still is, and in West Sussex today I believe it is the Third – behind the Duke of Norfolk, and the Cowdray Estate (though there has some been some dirty work recently in the Egmont family, which might mean the Duke of Richmond has slid into second place).

    @ Various

    As regards an RN/RFA presence in the Caribbean I am back to asking why? We have five colonies left there and the FCO has been trying to persuade them to be come independent for decades and who are of no strategic value whatsoever (even Christopher Columbus, who discovered them, couldn’t find a reason to hang about the Turks and Caicos Islands). Let the DfID sink some of their billions into providing counter-narcotics or disaster relief or whatever. If the RN/RFA are going to go there let the full costs be recharged to the DfID, otherwise forget it (there are plenty of war-fighting tasks the RN can be training for).

  75. @ x,

    Practically every shift in power during the wars of the roses resulted in major upheavels. Besides, it’s irrelevant. The “no invasion since 1066” is a myth. There’s been scores of the bloody things (I’m looking at you as well Scotland).

  76. @ GNB

    Military force alone struggles to dominate a population; simply not enough resources. As you say technology has gone a long way to address the shortage of manpower. Stasi would have given a left knockwurst for the technology available to the NSA and GCHQ.

    Yes the Normans were quickly assimilated. After all they were Vikings and so really it was just movement within a single population, that of North Europe, more than a matter of race. (Really pisses me off when the Normans get used as an excuse for uncontrolled immigration. The change was cultural. But there is no way you can compare anything that came after to 1066. The closest anybody got was one A Hitler who decided that the USSR was an easier proposition than the English Channel. (Gross twisting of the facts there…………) Indeed I bet if the Normans hadn’t come the English aristocracy would have been speaking French and would have adopted a Continental court structure with a hundred years or so anyway. The Saxons weren’t the unsophisticates that popular history makes them out to be; in the same way the Britons weren’t a backward warry wode wearing wrace when the Romans arrived here the second time……..

    @ Hurst Llama

    Thank you. Property law is a truly fascinating field (ha!). And you are right in that a surprisingly few landowners own a surprising amount of land in the UK.

    As for the Caribbean BOT’s being worthless then yes probably they are in a way apart from their EEZ. (Guyana may have been a good site for a UK space programme!) Who knows what that will be worth in the future? They are still ours so we have a duty towards them. Sending an escort is a better defence solution than a resident battalion which wouldn’t work. The RAF could do the job up to a point or a similar job to the same end. As I keep saying the frigate isn’t stuck there if the balloon goes up. For me it is simply that a frigate can do what an OPV can do, but not the reverse. An OPV would be cheaper than a frigate certainly, but to do the job properly would it be a cheap ship? To better address hurricane relief, provide aviation facilities, and a speed in the region of 20kts in one hull I think you are looking at the high side of £60 million.

  77. There is a reason why lots of major politicos and police officers are in favour of full legalisation… Once they retire and no longer have to pay lip service to prejudice.

    I as a practicing criminal lawyer are dead set against legalisation…. I would be out of a job in weeks.

  78. @IXION…I’ve always been in favour of legalisation myself…

    A slightly malevolent Gloomy.

  79. Its one thing to argue for the legalisation of coca leaf tea as a mild pick me up, but given the number of otherwise healthy young adults admitted to hospital with heart/breathing problems ( who test positive for cocaine), it would be madness to legalise cocaine. We as a nation, have enough health problems as it is.

  80. JH

    I simply state for good or ill. The majority of people involved in enforcing our drug laws think they are ineffective and or scientificly speaking rubbish.

    They never say so ‘on the record’ whilst in post. But often will talk freely off it. It is an open secret.

    This position was much lamented in one broadsheet comment column a year or so ago which challanged (unnamed) govt ministers and officials to say publicly what they say privately. And not to wait until comfortable retirement.

  81. Giving in to drugs is just one symptom of the “managing decline” mentality of our political/managerial class. Another example is the money that should be spent on defence & keeping our industry world class, is frittered away on new Mercedes for third world dictators.
    I wish our leaders had a tiny touch of Chinese leadership about them, when it comes to patriotism & building the country up.

  82. “… it would be madness to legalise cocaine …”

    A good definition of insanity is to keep to doing the same thing and expect a different result. Since cocaine was made illegal the number of users has shot up, vast quantities of money has flowed into the hangs of criminal gangs (to the detriment and corruption of society – and that is where the real damage is done) and huge sums of taxpayers money are spend annually in a futile attempt to control the trade (money that could more usefully be spent on defence and keeping our industry world class). Surely at some stage one is entitled to say what we are doing isn’t working and we should try something else.

    By legalising and taxing narcotics and treating it in much the same way as we do tobacco might be a good alternative. The UK would be billions of pounds a year better off (tax revenue plus savings in law enforcement and prison costs), there would be far less corruption in our public services, far less crime (muggings, burglaries, shoplifting would all fall as would the number of prostitutes and people smuggling). The number of addicts would decline over time (as have the number of smokers). Even the health costs might not increase that much (many of the problems are caused by the crap that the illegal stuff is diluted with and its variable quality).

    Madness, I suggest, is carrying on with present policies.

  83. “… it would be madness to legalise cocaine …”

    Well we legalise alcohol and that breaks more homes than all the other drugs put together. Then there’s tobacco which causes so many immediate and knock on health problems it’s laughable.

    The thing with legalisation is that with it comes control and unfortunately commerce and corruption.

    I’m certainly in two minds about it.

    Perhaps legalisation is the best move, but only if we do an NHS exemption process which says that if you smoke you don’t get any lung problems fixed, if you drink too much you don’t have your liver covered and it you eat too much fat you don’t get any heart cover. Almost impossible to police and measure.

  84. We’ve legalised both Tobacco and Alcohol, and neither of those has done much good (I say this as a smoker and a drinker).

    Look at the number of people requiring NHS aid for alcohol and tobacco related illnesses. The number of people killed or seriously injured by drunk drivers annually. The social and family fallouts associated with alcohol. These are far in excess of cases related to drugs.

    And to presume that if you legalise drugs it will cripple the criminal fraternity is – I would suggest – highly speculative. By definition these are people who are in it for the easy (and non-taxable) money, and who do not care much for legal work. Some are forced into criminal activity by circumstances, there’s always going to be that percentage of people who essentially just get caught up in it all. But just because you take away one source of funding does not mean that the harder core, like those involved in the import and distribution aspect of the drug business, are not going to switch to something else.

    We can save money and time by overlooking certain offences, such as small scale cannabis possession while targeting more of the dealers. But it takes time, resources, intelligence, and an understanding that you’re mostly just significantly disrupting the supply, not putting an end to it. A nationally coordinated system might help to.

  85. Well action needs to be taken against binge drinkers that turn town centres into no-go zones for decent people on a Friday & Saturday nights, but that is no reason to give into the drug gangs. There is no real action against drugs. If there was, then burglars who commit their crimes to support their drug habit would get five years imprisonment with no early release. We have random breath tests for drivers, so we should have random drug tests for clubbers, public sector & BBC workers. Agreed that madness is this half hearted, barely enforced, drug policy we have now.

  86. Ok going to wade in bigtime now. :)

    Drink has been curse of the uk for centuries. Long before the victorian stiff upper lip our reputation across Europe was as violent pissheads.

    As for drink the spams tried prohibition and gave it up for very good reasons. Everyone was at it, it was teaching generations of otherwise law abiding citizens contempt for law.

    This summer hundreds of thousands of people went to rock festivals. Many of them took cocaine, gange, ecstacy etc and went home. I represented 6 who got caught at a local festivals. Profesional classes all of them.

    As per my earlier post several police types involved were of the ‘realy should be doing something useful rather hassling a few users having a good time’ view.

    We enforce drug law to try and stop illegal gangs corrupting the country. The point being that the spams trace the explosion of

    The same reasons we fight drug cartels now. It is to stop a cartel becoming powerful and subverting the state.

    Take away the drugs You take away their biggest scource of cash. Which is what happened in mafia terms.

    I DO NOT say drugs are harmless. They most certainly are not. But more harmful than booze fags hamburgers etc? Medicaly certainly not.

    And we are pissing into the wind trying to stop them. South American countries are already moving to legalise production, and states on the US legalising cannabis.

    This is not a defence issue. Our navy should be chasing this stuff.

    But I suspect the lockem up and throw the keys away crowd will continue. We could not afford that as even the US has just announced a ‘fiddle” to cut the number of usrrd and minor dealers in jail.

  87. IXION, then that isn’t a problem with the morality of the law, it’s a problem with enforcement isn’t it? And the inability to enforce does not make the problem suddenly “right” or “disappear”, it just hides the problem under legal fiction. Why not legalize mugging, rape and murder then? The crime rate would drop to 0! The UK is now the safest country in the world!

    I’m not going to go beyond that point that legality and enforcement are two different things, sometimes, even if something is not totally enforcable, it still sends a message out.

    And I’d love to see how you are going to justify a school “No To Drugs” campaign if the government happens to be the biggest dealer in the country. :)

  88. So if its ok for professionals to take drugs & get away with it, is it fine for those in charge of cruise missiles, Trident warheads , GPMGs & mortars , to take drugs? Perhaps if professionals knew their degrees & other qualifications would be torn up if they are convicted of a drug offence , we might have real deterrence against drugs. So if you are a lawyer, teacher or doctor testing positive for cocaine or heroine, you face a lifetime ban from work in those professions.

  89. JH, heroin, a heroine is on the totally opposite moral end of the moral scale to heroin. :)

    And damn IP blocker has been messing up my posts….

  90. Observer.

    Yes it is an enforcement issue.

    Nothing makes a state weaker than bring seen to fail at its aims.

    Most of south America is a democracy (for a given value of democracy) most of these govts have popular support and sensible policies and reasonable recources.

    Yet they struggle with huge problems because of the cartels. Parts of mexico are ungovernable becausr of drug cartels.

    Such countries are increasingly getting fed up. And looking to legalise and lance that boil. If its legal there is no reason for the producer to corrupt and subvert the govt.

    Lets face it. Faced with the choice so charmingly put of lead or silver, any sane individual takes the silver.

    The US directly profits by huge small arm sales to the cartels.

    We have had a war on drugs for 40 years or more. It has by any meaningful criteria failed. More types of drugs are available in more quantities than ever before in uk alone.

    No one is suggesting legalising rape and murder. These are not that prevelent a crime.( Despite what the Daily Mail says).
    They do not threaten the state. They are not the object of organised criminal gangs.(although they may occasionaly commit such crimes). More importantly they are not indulged in by millions of otherwise law abiding citizens.

    As for peoplevworking stoned. The Rn was recently criticised for the level of intoxication on its nuclear subs and not a snort of beak in sight.

    Are you happy eiyh a level of hypocracy that
    Virtually everybody who is involved in enforcing a law has at one time or anothet broken it, and knows it to be a sham. That is not healthy for the state.

    Many profesionals already face lifetime bans if caught. Its not stopping them.

    As for just say no? Treat it like the anti smoking campaigns.

    Drugs were legal until the early part of the 20th century. There were dozens or registered Heroin addicts in the 1940’s. There are thousands now. War is going well isn’t it!

  91. IXION,

    in addition to rather lacklustre laws that are no effective deterrent, and legalisation, there is a 3rd way. Make the punishment so terrifyingly brutal that no one wants to put themselves into the position of suffering it. 10 years for street dealing (1st offence), 20 years for the 2nd offence, life for a third offence. Supply over a certain low weight to start with 40 years, and life for anyone involved in distribution. No parole in any case. And bang it into the heads of every schoolchild in the country as a mandatory part of the curriculum: get involved in any minor way with drugs, and your adult life is going to be spent in prison.

    I imagine the EU and separate ECHR wouldn’t like that, but then I don’t want us to remain part of either, so I’m not fussed about their legal opinions.

    Catch too many people? Build more jails.

  92. It might work, Mr. Trousers, but experience in other parts of the world where they have very heavy penalties (e.g. death for dealing and/or smuggling) might suggest otherwise. Direct comparisons are tricky because there are social factors that come into play but it’s worth noting that Iran has a serious heroin problem (probably worse than ours) as do several countries in the far east that also hang bigger dealers when caught and give out long gaol sentences for the others.

    Someone will always take the risk if the rewards are big enough and the gangs are now so rich that they can pay enough to tempt some enough poor or greedy people to run the gauntlet. Look also at Northern Mexico where hundreds of people are being killed every year as they fight with rival gangs for control of the drug trade – the threat of death don’t put them off.

    As for sending more people to gaol, about ten years ago some research was done at Lewes prison – 83% of the inmates were either in for drug related crime and/or were drug users. The possibility of prison or even exclusion from our chosen profession might give the likes of you and I (and, one hopes, our children) from ever dabbling in the foul muck, but things look very different to a functionally illiterate youngster on a sink estate with no hope of a job and whose role model is the local dealer – the fellow with the cash, the trendy clothes, the girls and the BMW.

    The fact is that the drug trade is just too damned lucrative; the profits just so big that enforcement is never going to stop it. However, all that failed enforcement activity sucks up vast amounts of money that could be spent for productive purposes.

  93. Rt

    US tried that, costs too much money to imprison so many people for two long.

    But since the RN are trumpeting once again their floating Rozers role. We can take the 5-10 billion or so a doubling or more of the prison population would cost out of the defence budget….And put up taxes for the rest of us to cover the shortfall of the taxes not being paid by the prisoners.

    BTW there would be a huge political backlash by the electorate as their little Jannets and Johns were slammed up an careers ruined for a spliff.

    There is an old sayingvin my job…

    Nothing turns a redneck into a screaming wet liberal quicker than having his coller felt..

    Your pollicy might just excellerate legalisation.

  94. As i often remind ‘hangers and floggers’.

    Once upon a time people were hung for stealing bread. Did not stop them trying to steal it though did it.

  95. Once again btw the ‘we are not floating rozers’ are boasting about what they did when they were floating about rozering…

    If it looks like a duck…..

  96. Obs, you are quite right. My spelling falls to bits, when I should be in bed.
    IXI. What war on drugs? Great moral speeches, but little action on the streets or in the courts. The life of a distant relative of mine was made hell, when petty drug dealers moved in next door & the local police refused to take any action, until local protest grew so loud, they could no longer ignore it.
    If cabinet ministers, senior civil servants/chief constables/judges are all taking drugs in private, it explains why this country is so badly run.

  97. JH

    You are not wrong.

    There has never been a war on drugs coz we could not afford it. That is part of the problem.

    As for politicos taking drugs. I doubt many senior ones do NOW. But when they were younger…..

    I have direct knowledge that one top uk university had to take action last year to clear drugs out of the student union. One lecturer complained if he opened his study window he got stoned from all the gange being smoked below.

    Bear in mind all the gange smoked in the BBC in the 70s and how many current politicos worked in the media in the 70s and 80s…..

    As for drugs affecting judgement. I recall the US assesment of dealing with us and the argies in the War that shall not be named.

    It was something like.

    GENERALLY the British officials were more sober than the Argentinians….. Generally

  98. IXION,

    you didn’t notice that I proposed the starting 10 years for street dealers (ie the last link in the supply chain), not for consumers. The offence should be supply, not consumption. Less for the electorate to worry about, as it is proper crime. Although I did not say it, I also was only thinking of the hard drugs, less marijuana. I could have been more explicit on that.

    Anyway, it’s not a policy of mine, it’s an intellectual counterpoint to the original assertion upthread that it was binary: current policies on drugs or capitulation / legalisation. It’s a candidate third way that I believe should be evaluated when considering future options. We would then have a range of options, with the current policies and laws as a mid point on a spectrum.

  99. IXIION (did the double I in the middle come about recently or did I just never notice?)

    Why compare it with a failed case like US vs Mexico? Why not compare it with a successful suppression like Asia’s Golden Triangle? The US tends to screw up most things anyway. You don’t hear much about Kun Sha’s successors nowadays, nor about the Golden Triangle any more. And Asia didn’t do it by being nice. Ironically, even then, America was aiding and abetting drug traffickers by supplying transport.

    And they wonder why most people think the US is an idiot.

    RT is being generous in the 10/20/30/40 year jail terms. In most of Asia, it’s Life even for the “first offence”, and I don’t mean jail. This means that anyone with 2 brain cells to rub together stay the hell away, only suicidal lunatics try their luck. An ex-dealer once commented, “Heroin traffickers like to show off how suicidal they are.” That is the kind of perception you want, that drug trafficking is suicidal and no sane person would want to try it. It won’t get you down to 100%, but it clears the crap by more than half and you can make up the rest with dilligent enforcement.

    Sure, it cost us diplomatically, especially when Australia did a “boo-hoo” when one of their own was up for the rope, but what the hell, we’re not here to make Australians happy, we’re here to keep OUR country safe. They can be good allies, the Aussies, but sometimes, they just don’t think socially or long term.

    Add this to a school anti-drugs propaganda campaign along with a “shock and revulsion” campaign on drug withdrawal symptoms and side effects, you should have a serious decline in pro-drug thinking. Just one look at someone who flayed his own skin off with his nails because of the “itching” withdrawal symptoms is enough to get someone to think twice. And the skin lesions and craters left from “skin popping” is probably enough to turn off girls who don’t want to look ugly.

    Add to this economic warfare, not by becoming dealers yourself, but by investing into alternate businesses to draw away the drug lord’s manpower and giving people other job choices, increasing the host country’s tax base to allow better funded enforcement, a “name and shame” campaign for the target country to dis-incentivise drug related businesses, hell, even letting drug lords invest into the new businesses to lure them away from drug cultivation are all tactics to consider. There is also a bit of psychology involved, for cartels that are family based, making them question if they want their sons and daughters to carry on a stigma as “illegals” vs reinvesting into businesses, dumping the old job and turning the family respectable is a good tactic since they think of the family first and foremost.

    Drug “campaigns” are literally that, campaigns that are multi-factoral, not just “enforcement” and end it there. You really want a “War on Drugs”, treat it like a real war, hit them militarily (in this case with police enforcement), economically, psychologically, diplomatically. The fact that your police already think of enforcement as a waste of time shows that you have lost the psychological and propaganda part of the war.

  100. Interesting observer, most of the reading about thishave covered the us. Have you a link to the far east policy on drugs? Overall how affective is the policy?

  101. So if its ok for professionals to take drugs & get away with it, is it fine for those in charge of cruise missiles, Trident warheads , GPMGs & mortars , to take drugs?

    We already have a good example of this; it’s legal to drink, but both very illegal and quite socially unacceptable to drink and drive.

  102. RT

    How do you define ‘a dealer’.

    Dealt with one case 2 weeks ago at a festival. Nurse Chap put some cocaine on the back of mates mobile chopped it into lines and offered it to his 2 friends. That is supplying class A drug. Current minimum 2 years or so. You want to give him 10?

    Very common for users to help one another out by passing on a few lines of this or that at cost plus a bit. In other words most users are dealers for a given value of ‘dealer’.


    The golden triangle could and indeed has had books written about it. But i was not aware the ‘war’ had been won in that area. More out competed by afghanistan than anything.

    And the Far east is riddled with drugs death penalty or not. Many people on death row in various states are offered drugs by well meaning prison officers to ease their passing.

    So i would be lairy of claiming it a success. Particuarly when set against its manifest failures everywhere else.

  103. top, effectiveness is at 80%. The Golden Triangle has a current production of only 20% of its peak, though there has been a spike recently of +30% so give it about 26% of old max production. Part of it is due to the rise in other drug types, but the fact that the region is industrializing is also significant, there are simply more, better paying and safer jobs out there, so less people are interested in such a job.

    Article in 1995

    The irony of it is that most South East Asian opium goes to the US. No one in his right mind wants to court death in the Asian market, only the suicidal ones. The drug lord, Khun Sha even once thought of cutting out the middleman and offered to sell his entire yearly crop to the US… Congress. :P That was painfully funny to watch.

    Once Burma/Myanmar opens up, we can finally get rid of the remains of that region. Just a matter of time.

    Alex, drugs should be a no-no, driving or otherwise. They are a blight. Alcohol doesn’t want to make you rip your skin off if you abstain.

  104. IXION, a cutdown of 80% by any measure is a success, but the biggest success I see from it is the number of people screaming “DON’T DO IT!!!” when it comes to drug trafficking. Just go online and see any number of posts telling people not to be stupid.

    Sure, locally you get hotspots, but these have never morphed to countrywide or international problems as it had in the past, and I see them as temporary holdouts that will die off once the area develops. Remember, the only opium producing areas left in the old Triangle is in Burma, and that is simply because of international borders protection. If not for the border, it’ll be a total wipeout. That is by any measure a victory.

    Weed on the other hand is embedded into the culture of some underdeveloped countries, so can’t do a sweep and clear on that, the weapon of choice here is industrialization and the rat race. If people are busy with their jobs, they are less likely to be planting weed or smoking. Ramp up work pressure high enough and over time, weed usage will drop.

    IXION, maybe you won’t call it a success because in your heart you don’t want it to be a success? Maybe the police were not the only casualty in losing the psychological/propaganda war?

  105. IXIION,

    re the nurse with cocaine offering some to his friends. Yes, 10 years, and possibly longer (because he clearly had enough cocaine for 3 people). But then I’m also in favour of life for murder meaning life. Possibly my sense of punishment is more developed than that of the legal system in the country (and the ECHR probably has an input into all of this, and they seem fairly lily-livered by the judgements that are reported). Anyway, I only have one vote and we live in a democracy.

    I’d like to say that I don’t know anyone who consumes drugs, but I suspect that drug taking is more prevalent in society than would make that a reasonable statement. It would be accurate to say that I am unaware that anyone I know takes illegal drugs.

  106. @ Observer thanks.
    I wonder if like you say one drug has been replaced with another people are still taking drugs just different ones or the same drugs but from another source.
    No I don’y suppose it does but there are many drug users in the UK. Not many if many I’d bet would end up like that. I can’t remember how many e tabs are sold per month across the UK but it’s a lot, I’d bet the fall out of such affects are the same as alcoholics.
    I agree with your point about jobs and work, however the rat race can create more of a demand people feel maxed out they want some relief from that rat race?
    I wonder though if we want that level of crack down, do we want teenagers sent to prison for life for selling their mates some Ecstacy or a line of cocaine? Does the UK want that? Are we ready for that level of prohibation?

  107. Okey dokey,

    As many of you know I was once a jolly old bouncer, handing out sweets to little children, helping old ladies across the road and giving a heart felt red carpet welcoming to many a punter.

    The first four months of this was spent in Harwich (because I got all the most “prestigious venues”).

    There was an abundance of people taking drugs in the town, many of them dealers. There was also a distinct lack of any significant Police presence. If you want to get a good idea of why the war/fight/campaign/skirmish against drugs isn’t working in Britain, then look no further than that. Harwich is a hub for drug movements, what with it being a passenger and vehicle port to the continent. Yet the Police presence there is structured solely around the basis of policing a small community, with additional aid sent on some nights to counter the drink problem.

    That’s why it’s not working. On top of that, I suspect if you asked around your local town, spoke to a few people that look like they know people, who know people, who can sort you out, then you wouldn’t have much trouble getting hold of some drugs. Everybody in the country could probably find a drug dealer in less than 24 hours. The only people that can’t seem to find them is the bloody Police.

    And while we’re on the approximate subject of nights out in Britain, just look around a town centre on a Friday or Saturday night. Or a Tuesday night. Or a Thursday night. All those coppers and vans and CCTV operators don’t pay for themselves. If you legalise drugs you might no have to pay to “fight” them anymore (not that the old bill seems to spend much of its budget doing that anyway), but you will have to pay to clean up the consequences of several hundred thousand new habitual, open drug users.

  108. I’m not sure that use would rocket if they became legal, or that they would be levels of trouble similar to that of alcohol related bother.

  109. RT

    The last paragraph of your post was interesting. You undoubtedly do know people that take drugs. You just don’t know it.


    What’s the total tonnage figures. By that I don’t expect you to know them, but if you produce 20 tons PA and that’s 80% of the heroin trade, if the trade expand to 100 tons and your still making 20 then your percentage drops.

    I repeat The Far East is rife with drugs, go to Bali sometime or Singapore, Hong Kong and only the fools get caught and executed because the sensible ones pay of the police. However you are right that other development should and is reducing the interest in drug production.

    In any event isn’t that a bit pointless the trade just moved elsewhere.


    I have always said parachute me into any town in the UK with a population of more than 5,000 or so; and give me a couple hours and I will find you some drugs- at least cannabis, probably Ecstasy.

    (BTW E now so cheap in the UK that some drug gangs are giving it up because they cant make money selling it! Think about it- off your tits on legal alcohol say £10- £15 or 3 tabs £4.50. Math is simple to the average club goer.

    As for the evils of drugs, yes they are evil – which is why I don’t take them, and have spent a lot of time warning off my kids. I have even introduced them to Junkies as aversion therapy.

    But 40 years of this policy have not worked, hard soft, hang em, treat em, etc etc. The desire of the human animal to get of its tits is constant and proven to go back to the stone age (or stoned age as one archeologist wag put it:- evidence of Hemp and cannabis use, and some quite cogent evidence that the desire to brew beer was the driver for settling down to farm!)

    And if that sounds some how charming as one PC said to me once ‘ I wish they would legalize cannabis .. no one smokes 2 joints and decides to take on all comers, but put 5 pints inside some people and off they go’.

    However I think RT OBSVR and I are not going to see eye to eye, so perhaps not much point down this line anymore. So back to my main point RN are boasting about being floating rozers again!

  110. How many people have been tempted to use drugs but not, because of fear of getting caught, the expense etc? To think that the use of highly addictive substances wont follow a trend set by alcohol and cigarettes is betting against the market.

  111. Chris, which is the point I was trying to make, it was an enforcement problem covered up by some snazzy media “War on Drugs” blah, blah bull-s. This “War on XYZ” media thing is an interesting Western phenomena, practically, it is just day to day work. Can’t remember who was it who told Hillary Clinton “We didn’t join your “War on Terror”, you finally joined us.” For the rest of the planet, it is day to day work, not just because some media corporation needed a soundbite.

    topman, true on the alternate drugs, especailly with modern day synthetics, this problem is something like the “Wack a Mole” game or the race between armour and defence, a problem crops up, you wack it on the head, another pops up, you wack that one etc etc. The problem is that most people see the scenario as a “Win the War, go home for tea and scones!” when it is more like normal work, i.e once you finish a project, another job crops up, so the initial mindset is wrong in the first place. The goal should not be “one win, go home”, but a constant job to keep the B.S at a low level. There will always be crime/drug abuse. Just need to keep the crap at a low enough background level. “You will always have the poor with you.” :)

    Ironically, the “weapon/counter weapon/counter counter weapon” analogy is actually a good one. Opium used to be the drug of choice, which was then cracked down on, then Bayer invented Heroin to be a less harmful medical opiate, which was found to be abused before the law wised up and smacked that down, then meth and ecstacy came out. So you can see the situation is ever evolving and not a “one win solves all” situation.

    Personally, I think the West is ill-suited to this kind of fight, The drive there is for quick fixes, not for multi-generational solutions, which is why the amount of crying over “it’s not working!!”. Some things just can’t be rushed.

    Disagree on jail terms though. Look at it from the mule’s point of view. “I get through, big $$$, I fail, food and lodging for life! Win-win!” Anyone trying to escape poverty, this is a sure win solution for them.


    “How many people have been tempted to use drugs but not, because of fear of getting caught”

    Both drugs and homicide. :) Still dream of the day I can push some piece of shit collegue out a window. Some people just don’t deserve to live.

  112. @Chris b . Very few I would imagine. For the average user little chance of bring arrested and for recreational users they’recheap.

  113. @ Topman,

    I would suggest there’s more than a few. Access to these sort of drugs is somewhat restricted, which means to get hold of it you have to be a bit nosey and put yourself in some risky spots. A lot of these drugs are also quite expensive, which naturally will put people off. One of the advantages of the significant increase in tobacco costs recently is that it’s priced many school kids out of the market, at least on a regular basis.

    As for getting the gangs, there’s various pinch points up and down the chain. Places like Harwich and other ports/airports are one of the pinch points. The next is the importers “warehousing” for want of a better word. One thing I’ve never understood is why we announce on TV that we’ve intercepted a large shipment coming through a port. Why they don’t just swap out the product and then tag the delivery device and follow it to its destination beyond me. I suspect it’s because there’s a lack of “jointness” in the process between the customs people and the police, as well as not having a national organisation designed to deal with this sort of thing.

  114. The only scary thing about many drugs is the possibility of becoming addicted and the overall effect that will have on one’s life and finances.

    I put drug use in the same category as speeding. The authorities know it’s going on but as long as it doesn’t become a problem they’ll look the other way… and if you think about it, that’s exactly how it should be. The speed limit is 70 mph but “many” do 90. If “many” do 120 things will change. The legal amount of drugs you can take is zero. Many take “some”. If many take “lots” then something will change – and locally this happens.

    It’s all about coaxing and coercing people to think a little harder about things and making them more difficult to obtain. We all make mistakes, it’s just some mistakes (often caused by the system we subscribe to) may be irreversible. The state must therefore take a level of responsibility in being the “nanny state” we all despise so much and try to limit the knock-on effects of what a class-society creates.

    I just think it’s a tough call between the current “illegal drugs that are rather easy to find if you want to” and the “legal drugs that are seriously controlled and taxed” methods of maintaining the status quo.

  115. I used to be a member of an inner city martial arts club, that was a diversity wet dream. All races, religions, colours, sexes, sexualities & ages. The one person who would tear a strip off anyone who lit a spliff, or defended Cannabis, was a young lesbian. Turns out her brother had been a grade A student. Then someone gave him GM modified super skunk. He dropped out of school, got involved in petty crime & ended up in a mental health ward. I am willing to turn a blind eye to an adult who smokes a weak spliff at home a couple of times a year, but supplying super skunk to those under 20, should be a grade A drug offence.
    As for the teenage little darlings, caught with drugs or getting involved in crime/anti-social behaviour, I think a couple of months in a wilderness training brat camp, would do wonders.

  116. @ Chris b, disagree on price cheap as chips. Many take them, cocaine and ex, on a night out because they so much cheaper than booze. Don’t think all places are smack dens.people buy from all sorts of places.

  117. JH

    Don’t get me wrong these things are mostly evil (BTW in my long experience the most dangerous drug out there is Amphetamine, it fries your brain and makes you a paranoid schizophrenic, seen it do it dozens of heavy users).

    All drugs are capable of ruining someone’s life if they are the drug that gets to them. Including booze and fags. And for the record. NEVER met a drug user that did not start on fags.

    As for the ravages of Alcohol…..

    I have met 70 year old heroin addicts who have been addicts for 40 years:- vaguely amusing that a govt report about 10 years ago, struggled about the fact that there are a number of VERY long term addicts who function perfectly well have jobs families etc….. Of course the majority can’t but some can.

    Paying for it drives moist of the petty acquisitive crime in the Western world. Great for me, but from the point of a state it would be cheaper and simpler to get a British Chemical co to produce them, and give them out. probably cost less than we would pay in prison costs alone. They are not that expensive to make.

    Let everyone grow their own gange.

  118. IXION sorry for the late reply, your post just popped out and the IP blockers are playing merry hob with my posts.

    As a matter of fact, I do know the approximate numbers, CIA estimates range from 1,800 tons to 2,500 tons annually in 1990-1995, should be accurate, that was how much Khun Sa offered to sell them :) It dropped to a low of about 300 tons before a climb back to about 500 tons post 2007 after the lull in enforcement.

    From the UN.

    Not too shabby, that is about 1,500 tons of opium written off the planet. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    “only the fools get caught and executed because the sensible ones pay of the police.”

    Don’t recall many traffickers paying off police, most just die. It’s more like any big bust, there is so much attention involved that it’s impossible to hide. You can hide drug abuse, drug trafficking is a lot harder.

    Agree that there is always a background level of drug abuse, it’s like weeding. You will never get 100% eradication, but you still do it to keep your garden from being overrun.

    I dunno, maybe it’s the difference in our media. Ours keep telling us that we are winning and the fight is worth it, while your media keeps telling you that you’re losing and to give up. Indoctrination in different directions. And don’t say the media isn’t a factor, look at the Vietnam war, the Tet offensive was a NV mistake and caused them severe losses, but the media painted it as such a US disaster that they pulled out.

  119. Well within the price of many people. God knows how many people buy them within a month. A line of coke is what a tenner, ecstasy is a fiver at most ? unless I’ve got the wrong end of the stick, and you mean something else by useable quantity?

  120. @ John Hartley

    “As for the teenage little darlings, caught with drugs or getting involved in crime/anti-social behaviour, I think a couple of months in a wilderness training brat camp, would do wonders.”

    Actually, I think that should be part of the standard curriculum, for every mid-late teenager.

    The children and I had some fun last weekend: 15 hours hiking with only what we had in our pockets and an old saucepan on a string bandolero over my shoulder for boiling water (Mrs RT dropping us off and picking us up, and rather fretting during the day with several text messages and over-mothering when we met up at the end), and me teaching them some things about navigation, starting a fire, safe drinking water and we fried up a couple of woodpigeons that I shot in the morning. They want to do it again, oddly. :) William managed to do so well for an 8 year old with enjoying things, showing an interest and not whinging about distance or his legs being tired that he has been awarded his own proper penknife.

  121. @ Chris b well cocaine is a tenner a pop and ecstasy a fiver max. At say that’s far cheaper than a night out on the pop. Unless you mean some thing else by use able quantities?

  122. Cocaine is a tenner a hit, henry of resin enough for a while about £80, heroin (the good stuff _£ 20 a bag. E’s about £1.50 each. Meow Meow seems as cheap as E’s.

    In most towns you can get stoned cheaper than drunk.


    I think you need to look at your media, coz I can assure you the far East is stuffed with drugs at the street level. They are getting there some how.

  123. @ Topman,

    One line is not enough for most drug users. That’s like me sparking up a fag. It’s a temporary fix, perhaps a few hours at most. It’s enough to get them started, but there will be plenty more disappearing up their nose before the night is out. One night me and the fella I was working with WD40’d the tops and sills in the loo of a pub in Colchester. By the end of the night we went in to check and found probably a grands worth of “yellow snow”. Tip of the iceberg.

  124. IXION, one mole at a time, one mole at a time. Opium and heroin are down, meth and ecstacy are next on the list.

    When I said it’s like weeding a garden, I mean it. Constant work. Once you stop, well, you can guess what happens to a garden.

  125. I don’t doubt there are a range of users, to the casual user they are a small part price wise for a night out. Not expensive at all. Even to the more Moderate user, on a very modest income could hide an addiction for quite a while.

  126. Coming to this one late – some experience as an Ex-Screw, who’s brother-in-law was head of a drug treatment programme in an HMP for a while, but I no longer live in UK, so very surprised by how cheap everyone is saying this stuff is:

    Therefore, legalize it and tax the frak out of it !

    By the way, all arguments about having to pay for treatment etc if it is legalized: well my bro-in-law who knows an awful lot about this, agrees that alcoholism is a much, much bigger problem in the UK than hard drugs. It costs mega-billions of pounds in lost productivity, healthcare spending, (not to mentiond saturday night vandalism and violence) , its legal, and it never gets any funding, due to the perception that drugs are a bigger problem. Oh and of course the brewing industry as a political lobby, unlike the drug dealers……..

  127. Go have a look at independent today for the article re Snr Doctors comments, then read down to the list of the various bodies pushing for some form of legalisation……..

  128. IXION, as my mum would say: “If someone jumped off a bridge, would you follow him?”

    Anyway, in the end, it’s your country, not mine. You have the right and the responsibility to shape it to the world you like. Just my opinion that you may be heading in a direction you might not expect, nor would the end state be something that you anticipated.

    How is the Netherlands doing with their “coffee houses”? Might be a good case study.

  129. @ Topman,

    It depends, re; keeping the addiction hidden and ongoing. There’s a lot of tragic cases out there. Often dealers will start people off with “introductory” prices if you like (sold at a loss) and turn the screw once they hooked the person. Before you know it they’re missing work to meet the dealers, taking out credit cards they can’t afford to pay their bills while their cash ends up in the drug dealers hand, then they stop paying their bills all together. I know an old school friend who runs a pawn shop. The stories he tells, the sort of people coming in. Some of them pretty blatant about what they’re doing with the money (not just coke, but weed, and the odd Heroin user).

    The fallout from drug use is easily as bad, if not worse than alcohol abuse. The more people we can keep off the drugs, the better.

  130. Chris B said “The more people we can keep off the drugs, the better.”

    Well said that man.

  131. Like I said I range of users. Your right there will be some like that, but many that aren’t. We as a country are quite happy with regulating some drugs say alcohol and don’t ban because of the alkies. Its not comprehensive but I tend think should the gov tell people what they can or can’t put in their own bodies? I know there’s more too it, but its a starting point for me.

  132. In that case top, where does it stop? “You can’t tell me I can’t drink when I drive!” “You can’t tell me I can’t piss off a building onto people’s heads, no harm done!” “You can’t tell me I can’t speed!” “You can’t tell me I can’t break glass bottles all over the pavement!”

    What is the job of a government?

  133. I never said any thing like those positions are ok. If you mean my point about gov control, I clearly said its merely a starting point to my thoughts on such matters.

  134. I don’t think any of those things are ok nor did I hint at it. Intact I said the gov regulates drugs such as alcohol. There are degrees between totally prohibition and a total free for all.

  135. I know that top, I just wanted to point out that like in most things, there is always a range of values. Absolutist stances like governments needing to control everything a person does is just as bad as governments who don’t care about what the people are up to, both are extremes that are bad, though in the opposite directions. The problem is finding the right “middle ground”.

    And I see the government’s job as maintaining an environment that allows people and the country to grow in safety, maturity and economy, all 3 factors of which drugs are the exact anti-thesis of.

    And I’m not that happy about alcohol too. Tobacco, it’s a 50/50. Effects are long term and when they show up, usually terminal. In essence you only kill yourself and the harm radius of it isn’t that bad, 2nd hand smoke exempting. You rarely hear of people beating up their wives because they were smoking tobacco, or getting into car accidents while “smoking driving” :P (hey, new crime invented!)

    Just wish humanity will grow up past the need to try poisoning themselves for fun…

  136. @ Topman,

    I think I see what you’re saying, but generally the number of “casual” users of drugs you’d expect to be limited. Look at smokers like me. Very rare you bump into someone who only smokes like once a day, not without them having previously been a heavy smoker. Drugs like cocaine, cannabis etc tend to be more addictive in the tobacco sense (one or two exposures to hook someone in many cases, with short intervals between cravings) vs. the Alcohol sense (takes a long time for someone to become dependent, and usually but not always related to other psychological factors like depression).

  137. I agree on quite a bit of that, a lot of it echos my thoughts and posts above we just think there’s different ways to do it.

    Unlikely to stop any time soon, we’ve been doing it since cave man times.

  138. @ Chris b
    I don’t pretend that they are exactly the same. But broadly similar in many ways yet the rules surrounding them are miles apart.
    From personal experience, they are quite a few casual users. Yours is different fair enough.

    I’d not mentioned smokers, but now you mention it I do know a few “social smokers” who only smoke when out. And a couple who only smoke at work, never on leave or any other time m weird but there you go!

  139. @ Topman,

    Part of it might be based on where we live, who we’re around etc. I’d suspect that you guys ahave mandatory drug testing every now and again?

    Me personally, I had that period on the doors where I was surrounded by some wonderful people, and some real scum of the Earth. I kind of want to get my license back now, if I only had the time.

  140. Of course, our own experiences help and hinder and I include myself in that.
    Yep its called CDT compulsory drug testing.

  141. A bit late to the party but to address an earlier comment about the street value of 680kg of cocaine. The quoted price of £40 per gram is usually for low grade cocaine. The cocaine seized is unlikely to reach the streets in the form it was found but will be cut with other things to make it go further. I’ve read that the average percentage of cocaine in a gram is between 20 and 30% but can be as low as 10%.. not sure how accurate these figures are but based on that a street vale of £100 million seems feasible.

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