14/12/2012 Newsnight


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Jeremy Paxman.

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Tonight, is it time we did something bold and admitted we need


a completely new approach to drugs? Whatever Government of any stripe


says, nearly three million of us are said to use them. If society


really is in war, it is one we are not winning, except, of course, it


is not society, but authority is not society, but authority


that's waging the war.Le They may be illegal, they may be bad for you.


But what about the very many people for whom drug taking is a


recreational and social habit. think pretty much every pub and bar


I have ever been into, if you look on the cistern of the toilet you


will find white crumbs of cocaine. Would decriminalising drugs change


behaviour more effectively than trying to pretend the state is on


top of the problem. Also tonight, yet another massacre of the


innocence in the United States. At least 27 people are killed in a


mass shooting at an Elementary School. Our hearts are broken today.


For the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these


little children, and for the families of the adults who were


lost. And some of our most eminent scientists want an official pardon


for the great code breaker and mathematician, Alan Turing, who


killed himself after being convicted for gross indecency with


a man. But what is the point of pardoning a dead man for a crime


which no longer exists. The war on drugs, the words are


surb such an empty cliche, even if the Vic -- such an empty cliche


even if the victims are real enough. Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime


Minister, says he wants a Royal Commission to re-think the way


drugs policy works. David Cameron has ruled it out. It is not purr


surprising that the two men disagree. It is -- surprising that


the two men disagree, it is as plain as the nose on your face,


that drugs abuse is widespread, and the illegality make as criminal


connection and drug habits drive crime. Might it be time for a new


approach? # Oh the weather outside is


frightful # But the fire is so delightful


# And since we've no place to go # Let it snow


The equivalent of the factory hooter has just gone off here in


the Square Mile, and people are taking to the clubs and pubs and


restaurants to toast their bonuses, if any. Will they be celebrating


only with the finest wines available to humanity, or might


there be other recreational substances available too. Many of


them in London take drugs, many of them take cocaine specifically,


because you get the buzz of the trading floor, you get, it's


glamorous, exclusive, expensive. It is the perfect drug for City boys,


many of my colleagues and clients used to indulge. It is really as


simple as that. No-one has a crystal ball on this, but the


deputy PM says we can't go on as we are. If you were on ducting Anwar


in which there were 2,000 fatalities d -- conducting a war in


which there were 2,000 fatalties, and your enemy is getting richer


all the time, and there are new weapons all the time, there are 40-


50 new legal highs everyy, and in which younger and younger children


are affected. If that was a war we would immediately say we have to do


something differently to wage the war more effectively. Hang on a


minute, the most recent figures actually show use of drugs is at


its lowest level since 96, use of Class A drugs has fluctuated over


this time, but has fallen since 2008. We have seen the gradual use


of drugs like cannabis, and to a degree, ecstacy, those have been


steadily going down. And I think there is pretty good evidence from


the crime survey for England and Wales of that. We have seen, I


think, with cocaine and with crack cocaine and with heroin, it has


gone down very slightly, it is probably best to say it has


plateaued. Cannabis, a class B substance, remains the drug taker's


top choice. Followed by Class As cocaine and ecstacy. Next aream


mill nitrate, amphetamines and ketamine. Every pub and car I have


been into, if you look on the cistern of the toilet you will find


white crumbs of coke tain. That doesn't mean pubs populated by


plumbers and licenseatricians, or pubs populated by City boys and


stock brokers. It is everywhere, it really is. It was a war lost around


15 years ago, as far as I'm concerned. Nick Clegg is sending an


EMSry from London to investigate drug policies elsewhere. What might


his wise man discover. In Portugal they put people through


dissituation committees, where they might be put through treatment, and


given a smack on the wrist and sent to an education class. In Australia


they turn a blind eye and allow a concern amount of cannabis for


possession. All of these countries, the important point is, things have


not got dramatically worse. That is great, but guess what the PM won't


be giving Mr Clegg for Christmas, a Royal Commission on drugs?


course the Deputy Prime Minister is entirely entitled to take a view


for the next election and beyond for his manifesto, wanting to go


further, wanting to have a Royal Commission. I personally don't


support a Royal Commission. There is always a danger that they can


take minutes and it can last for years. I'm very happy to debate and


discuss drug policy, I think the coalition Government has taken a


series of good steps. # Let it snow


Julia Manning is health campaigner and chief executive of the at this


tang 2020 Health. We have a clinical psychologist specialising


in drug use. And Elliott is a drug user, what do you use now?


injecting morphine. How do you pay for it, we pay for it, the


taxpayer? Yes. You can function? function very well, I was a daily


heroin user doing my PhD and teaching at university. Are you


working now? I'm executive direct of the group about people taking


drugs, I have come are back from a UN conference where I was arguing


for drug taking. Are there lots of people like you, regular drug


users? Countless thousands of people whose drug use is functional,


and because of the stigma and discrimination and criminalisation,


cannot possibly come out in public and admit to the fact that they use


drugs that are currently legal, but do so in a perfectly functional way.


What do you make of that position? I think it's unsustainable. It was


interesting in the video that we heard Nick Clegg talking about why


he's talking about this today, that the drugs policy isn't working. Yet


we then saw statistics to show he's ten years out of date. Our laws are


working, he particularly focused on children, and their drug use, their


use has gone down by 30% in the past ten years. This raises the


question, which we all need to engage with, what is the aim of


drugs policy? Drugs policy really ought to be towards the public good.


It should be to do with reducing the collective harm we have in


society. But, you have just heard somebody say, we will leave aside


our feelings about whether we should be paying for your drugs,


but there is somebody who can function perfectly well, where is


the gain in stopping him using? Part of the problem that we have,


which makes it a difficult topic for the general public and


politicians, is that use of drugs is associated with harm, for many


individuals, it is a harm that we would want to avoid. But, also, our


sanctions, also bringing their own collateral damage and complicate it.


One is looking, really for whatever incremental change can you make,


that reduces the harm overall. you share that view of what the


objective of drugs policy ought to be? Every law is about balancing


freedom and risk. And to date we have felt that the risk of drug


taking, outweighs our freedoms to be able to do what we want and take


whatever drugs we want. It is not just about the science, it is about


society, it is about what's in the national interest, and that is


outweighed, you know, the risks are too great. I would actually dispute


that you are still functioning normally. I'm afraid the medical


evidence is your blood vessels are shrinking by the month, by the year.


You will not be able to sustain having morphine injections until


you are old, you won't get to old age.


How old are you? I'm 43 years old, I have been using heroin for 25


years, and as you probably know, if you do know the evidence, opiates


are actually a very safe substance to use. You The only risk


associated with overdose. You feel well? I'm extremely well, as I said,


I was doing my PhD, whilst a daily heroin user. Lots of people sleep


their ways through PhDs? Indeed they do. However, when I was


teaching and working, nobody ever knew I was a daily heroin user, it


didn't affect my ability to function at a high level. If the


idea is to minimise harm, that's the objective, minimising harm, and


there are various ways that might be done. Is harm being minimised,


currently, by keeping them illegal? In a way the missing ingredient


from the way we tackle this problem is that we don't test that. What we


have is political and public posturing, we have people coming on


your programme and others, campaigning, or lobbying. What you


really want to do is make small incremental changes, as you would


do in the treatment, if you want to know whether you get improved


treatment with cancer survival rates, or any other disorder like


that, you expect toe see small incremental change, and you want to


check does that improve the situation or worsen it. What is


missing is the commitment to science. What you are saying is the


very worst people to make drugs policy are politicians? I think


there is an inherent problem in the position of positions. They


necessarily want to do what is popular, and what I want


politicians to do, is to look at the evidence and do what is most


effective. What would you change about the way


drugs policy works now? I would want to look at the way we deal


with called legal highs. I think, the law cannot keep up, they are


coming on the market, the film said one new one every year, I think it


is more frequent than that. And we can't possibly keep up. We need to


look at them in the same way we do with prescription drugs. If they


have a license then they are legal, if they haven't got a license and


they are not prescribeed, then they are illegal, it doesn't matter what


they are called or the new formulation is. That is one thing.


The other thing I would like to see is a serious look at the drug


problem in prison, that is out of control. That bit isn't working,


and I take your point, we should be looking at what we can change there


to improve outcomes for prisoners. That we have a lunatic penal system


in which people go in clean and come out addicted. That is to do


with the way the prisons are run as much as anything. Is there some


deep social problem in this country that leads to greater drug use? Why


did you start doing it? It was purely a choice that I chose to


make. Out of intellectual curiosity and interest, something I found to


be enjoyable, and sociable. But you know that there are plenty of other


people who have taken heroin, crack cocaine, and various other drugs,


and are not here to tell the tale, you are very blase about it?


this is not about me as a person, as an individual. The fact is, we


have an enormous number of people who use drugs, who have a large


range of social problems, whether they be lack of housing, lack of


employment, lack of education, and in addition to drug use. What tends


to happen is we identify drug use as the sole cause of the problems


they have. We are dealing with a very complex social mix.


Criminalising people and subjected them to stigma is increasing the


problems. It is very difficult when there is such a broad span of


people who use drugs. The sort of evidence that Steve Smith was


citing in that piece, people go clubbing, for example, or they go


out on social events, it is a different kind of problem to the


sort of problem that you have identified here, of people who are


socially disadvantaged, and are using drugs for whatever reason as


part of that whole experience of social disadvantage. It is very


hard to have some overarching policy isn't it? Well, I think we


have got one, which is using drugs is illegal, that is an overarching


policy. It is an interesting point. You already said, it's indicative


of social dysfunction, of lack of confidence, of needing that


something else that you can't get from yourself, and drugs then,


turning to drugs simply causes addiction, causing problems with


finance, with crime. We should be looking at why are people turning


to drugs in the first place. What is wrong that they feel that is the


only solution for them? David Cameron came up with the old line


about Royal Commissions taking minutes and lasting years. The


other one is they are not so much designed to dig things up, and dig


them in. Would you have a Royal Commission? I'm probably not the


sort of person who would say a Royal Commission is the right


mechanism or not. A way of re- examining? What we do want is an


open-minded examination of the different options. I mean I would


differ in the view about, I would not want to be encouraging people


to use drugs. I would want to have mechanisms that enabled people to


get out of the hole that they are in. Some of those would involve


meeting people where they are. Working with their difficulties. I


think the prison example is a good one. I would go back to the science


question. I would expect people to tell me where the short sentences,


or long sentences were more effective. Or how much difference


did the support after prison make? Those answers would then guide me


in how I constructed a more effective response. What we can


learn from Portugal, is that policy was brought in specifically for


people who are HIV-positive, and the amount of transference of HIV


through drug users, using syringes, it wasn't about going soft on drugs.


Of course, what there is in the Portugal example, while the focus


has been on the legal framework, it actually is a shift in the


investment from a criminal justice response to actually a health


caring response. Another bunch of children murdered in a place of


apparent safety, what is there to say, except, not again. The news


that at least 26 people, most of them children, have died in yet


another mass shooting, this time at an Elementary School in Conneticut,


has a sickening familiarity. The affection which much of the US


looks on guns will be re-examined again, and we shall soon hear again


the claims of the gun trade that they cannot be blamed for what


people do with their lethal products. Tonight the President had


this emotional reaction. majority of those who died today


were children. Beautiful little kids between the ages of five and


ten years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them.


Birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen


were also teachers, men and women who devoted their lives to helping


our children fulfil their dreams. So our hearts are broken today.


have Bill Clinton's speechwriter at the time of the Columbine massacre,


and now edits Washington Monthly, and we have the bureau chief from


one of the papers. The White House was saying it is not the time for


policy initiatives, why not, if not when? It is a perfect time to talk


policy. In the Clinton administration, when we had these


sorts of mass shooting, you bet we used them to draw attention to


policies that we had, that we thought would lessen gun crimes.


Since then, however, the politics of the country have changed, the


politics of the democratic party have changed. And the President,


and lots of Democrats over the last eight years, ten years, have made


the decision that trying to do something about gun crimes, about


gun control, is a political loser. So very little has been proposed.


Really, since the late 19 90s. this likely to have any greater


impact in terms of gun control than previous tragedies in your country?


Well, I am afraid that I'm sceptical. We have seen a series of


shootings over the years, and in many places people have said this


is the one, this one is so ghastly, there is something so uniquely


horrible. We had the one in the movie theatre this summer? Colorado,


where the man was wearing a terrifying costume, it was in the


middle of this Batman premier, people were trapped in their seats.


There was something unusually sadistic about it. Opinion about


gun control didn't change, when Gaby Gifford, a popular


Congresswoman was shot that didn't change things. The victims are so


young this time, and the numbers are so high, will it be


qualitatively different, recent history makes me sceptical it would


be. It is a matter of utter bafflement to the rest of the world,


when you see these things happening time after time after time, and


there is no change of policy? What is your idea? I think, if it turns


out that this gun that was used in the shooting, was gotten illegally.


There is a chance that we will see some policy initiative. What really


needs to happen in the United States, is to crack down on the


handful of gun dealers, whose weapons wind up being used by


criminals in crimes. The vast majority of gun crimes are from


guns that come from a tiny fraction of gun store, the problem is the


federal Government's agency to regulate gun stores, the ATF, is


ham strung by laws put there by Republican Congressmen, and


senators, and in cahoots with the National Rifle Association, that is


a good battle to have. If it is a legal gun, bought by somebody who,


for whom, our existing gun laws, even if enforced, would not have


stopped. Then it is a much harder to see what the next policy step


would be. What do you think, why does this keep on happening in your


country? We have got 300 million guns floating around the country.


It has always been a country that revered the capacity of citizens,


the ability of citizens, to own guns. But not to shoot children in


school, what's your view? Of course. Well, of course, that, a big issue


we can't overlook is mental health. If one common thread to all the


incidents, is severely disturbed people who didn't get the mental


health assistance they needed. I want to remind people that the


story is more about gun laws, there is only so much you can legislate


to prevent someone hurting people if there is something seriously


wrong with them. There are often red flags overlooked, people need


treatment and perhaps they need to be locked up. There is this element


to the national culture, for better or for worse, it is written in the


constitution that there is a might to bear arms. People argue about


what it means. But it has become part of America's character, that


goes back to that frontier, ethos. It was really striking, wasn't it,


that Obama looked visibly, very moved by what had happened, do you


think he will be moved enough to act on these in-built convictions


that allow these people to act like this? I don't want to be glib, but


you might speculate that he was moved because he knows that so


little realistically can be done and will be done. I think the


political system, look there is a well-funded, well-organised, very


effective lobby that fight gun control laws in this country. On


the otherhand you have a public that is horrified and outraged


periodically by events like this, but the emotions fade. The National


Rifle Association, and those gun lobbies who wake up thinking about


this, they don't give up the fight and they have the upper hand.


of the most distinguished scientists in the land want the


Prime Minister formally to forgive, the mathematician that played a an


important role in breaking codes in Bletchley Park. Alan Turing killed


himself after being accused of gross indecency with a man. No-one


denies he served his country or his suicide was a tragedy, what exactly


is the Prime Minister to forgive? Indeed, is he in any permission to


do so. Why not apologise to other victims of other now long dead laws.


He was a brilliant mathematician and computer pioneer, it was Alan


Turing's work, decoding military messages sent out by the German


Enigma machine, that made him a hero. During the Second World War


the Germans believed the Enigma code of unbreakable, in one of the


most secret projects of the war, Bletchley Park, Turing's team


cracked it. The gave the Allies the intelligence to anticipate what the


Germans might do next, shortening the war and saving lives. But in


1952, Alan Turing was charged with gross indecency, for committing


homosexual acts. He avoided prison, only by agreeing to injections of


female hormones. Two years later he was found dead, having eaten an


apple laced with cyanide. In 2009, after an on-line petition calling


for him to be pardoned received tenss of thousands of signatures,


Gordon Brown apologised for the way he was treated. Scientists,


including Stephen Hawking, the head of the Royal Society, and the


Astronomer Royal, have called for David Cameron, formally, to forgive


him. If he's pardoned, who else? Oscar Wilde, he's famous too, do


great actions make you more deserving than the thousands of


others convicted under the same law?


Posthumous pardons do happen. In 2006, the MoD gave one to more than


300 soldiers, shot for military eavess, including cowardice -


offences, including cowardice in World War I. A pardon doesn't undo


the damage, but campaigners say it would undo the blemish.


Bletchley Park is in the constituency of Ian Stewart, and he


is supporting the campaign for Alan Turing to be pardoned, we have the


Professor of mathematics at the university of Oxford. What


difference would a pardon make? this centinary year, the pardon


will help us not only celebrate his many achievements, but right a


dreadful wrong done to this brilliant man. He's dead? You said


in the introduction, there is a precedent now, the desers in World


War I was pardoned, Government has passed already an act in the


protection of freedoms act, which cleanses a record of living people,


who were convicted of such called crimes. I just think now we have to


right the wrong. What do you think about it? Alan Turing is one of my


great heros, one of the greatest scientist of the 20th century. In


some ways the issue is slightly confused. You know, why pardon him,


because he's a great mathematician, and a hero for the Second World War,


helped crack the Enigma reason. I think it doesn't go far enough, I


think, certainly, he should be pardoned, but also everyone


convicted under the act. The wrong was making that a criminal act.


fame, his celebrity, his talent, whatever, should not entitle him to


preferential treatment, should it? The Government has already acted to


cleanse the record of living people, it doesn't apply posthumously.


There mayle well be other very deserving cases. -- There may well


be other deserving cases. What about Oscar Wilde, he was convicted


of the same offence? That is a separate debate to be had. It is


the same issue, you would say yes? This is just confusing it, it is


really about criminalising. What about people convicted of


witchcraft, that is another law that no longer exists? For Alan


Turing, we owe our liberty to this man, he cracked the code, and


without his work the war would have been prolonged and the outcome


might have been given. The apology given by Gordon Brown was


absolutely right, think we can do better for, that there is a public


appetite for it. At the time this was a crime what he did. That is a


fair point. That's why Governments of both colours have resisted a


pardon until now. I think there is a debate to be had. I would like to


see parliament have a chance fully to debate this and express its


opinion. Where would you take it, you say this is a pardon that


should be extended to everyone convicted of this crime, would you


extend it to other things that are no longer a crime? I mentioned


witchcraft, there are people who died because they were judged


witches? This is a case of taking each particular criminal act and


deciding it should never have been a criminal act. In this case it is


totally clear it was a big mistake to criminalise homosexuality.


Witchcraft? I would go for that. Any others? So there would be a


blanket pardon, despite the fact that in the context of the time it


was a crime? The pardon is saying it was a mistake to make that a


crime. And we now realise it was a mistake, it should never have been


that. It is great retrospective wisdom? It is strange the letter,


which is asking Cameron to pardon Alan Turing, he did nothing wrong.


He doesn't need forgiving. The word "forgiveness". Who is David Cameron


it pardon anybody? They should be asking Turing to forgive them,


frankly, I think it is all the wrong way round. If I can just


point out, there is a bill in parliament at the moment, sponsored


by my colleague in the Lords, Lord Sharky, the bill is very


specifically on Alan Turing, it would be parliament that passed a


law. It wouldn't be the Prime Minister himself granting a pardon.


I think that is a very important We have to check out now to make


way for the review show, and their exciting Hobbit-fest coming up.


Next time you watch a dimwited Hobbit wrestling with the bleeping


supermarket checkouts in your local supermarket. Say out a prayer for


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