Interesting story here on the BBC news site – Heroin supply clinic ‘cuts crime’. I don’t know anything about heroin, well I read Marek Kohn’s Narcomania when I was much younger, but this brings back a confused memory of the 1980’s. Have we not been here before?

I’m pretty sure this is exactly what the NHS tried in the Thatcher years, the ‘British policy’ of giving addicts heroin? I seem to recall it was historically the norm in the UK, worked pretty well,  and slowly was phased out in the 1980’s –  partly for economic reasons – heroin is more expensive than methadone to administer clinically.It was initiated by the Rolleston Committee report (1926) and UK heroin usage remained small scale until the drugs boom of the 60’s?  However that boom does show one thing: a treatment plan is not enough. Cultural and social factors must have played a part in the sudden heroin explosion of that decade.

The whole ‘British policy’  ended in the late 80’s under political pressure form the USA during the “War on Drugs.” Now Terror has replaced Drugs as the US bogeyman – I wonder which costs the economy more, and takes more lives? I suspect drugs, but hey, alcohol is probably a bigger killer than either. So it seems that we are revering to the policy Britain pursued throughout the first half of the twentieth century, and which succumbed to external political influence — but there is strangely no mention of this fact at all in the BBC reportin  Nor of the fact that as far as i can recall this decade has seen a marked European move to the ‘British policy’.

I actually have no strong feelings on this – insuffiicient data – and no personal desire to do heroin. I am deeply curious however about the total absence of historical perspective or wider context here in the reporting – and that troubles me. Internet age Britain clearly runs off press releases without research, given I seem to have be better informed than whoever wrote the story? Or is news supposed to be decontextualised, without context, to make it “news”?


About Chris Jensen Romer

I am a profoundly dull, tedious and irritable individual. I have no friends apart from two equally ill mannered cats, and a lunatic kitten. I am a ghosthunter by profession, and professional cat herder. I write stuff and do TV things and play games. It's better than being real I find.
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