Ahead of a 10-year drugs plan to be outlined tomorrow, Boris Johnson said some people use ‘lifestyle’ drugs and he’ll look at ‘taking away passports and driving licences’ to ‘interfere with their lives’
Middle-class cocaine users could have their passports and driving licences taken away in a government crackdown, Boris Johnson has suggested.
The Prime Minister said there is a group of people who use drugs to fuel a “lifestyle” without being sucked into the cycle of prison.
“These people think it’s a victimless crime – it isn’t,” Boris Johnson, who has admitted trying cocaine as a teenager, told the Sun on Sunday.
“We are going to look at new ways of penalising them. Things that will actually interfere with their lives, so we will look at taking away passports and driving licences.”
Ahead of a new drugs strategy to be announced tomorrow, Mr Johnson said there are two categories of people using illegal substances.
The PM said around 300,000 heroin and crack cocaine users – who drive most drug-related crime and are constantly locked up – have to be rehabilitated.
But he added: “There is a separate group who can cope but who are also feeding the demand and helping to create the economics of the business.
“I don’t want to stereotype them but I’m talking about lifestyle drugs.”
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab went further, telling the BBC : “We want to be very clear on the sentences and penalties. We don’t think so-called middle class taking of cocaine is somehow okay.
“In that sense we’re going to be tough. But we’re also looking at how we help drug addicts get free of their dependency.”
The Prime Minister will this week launch a 10-year plan to tackle illegal drug-related crime.
The crackdown will also include football-style travel bans, harsher sentences for drug dealers and measures to break up County Lines gangs.
Tayfun Salci/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock)
The Sun on Sunday reported Boris Johnson will outline “record” funding for addiction treatment and recovery services, with more money promised for the 50 local authorities with the worst drug issues including Middlesbrough, Blackpool and Liverpool.
The Government announced in July it would establish a new unit to help end illegal drug-related illness and deaths, as the second part of Dame Carol Black’s Independent Review of Drugs was released.
The first phase of the review, published in February last year, estimated there were 300,000 opiate or crack users in England, and around one million people using cocaine per year.
Meanwhile, drug misuse poisoning deaths are at a record high, having increased by nearly 80% since 2012.
Dame Carol’s review also determined the illicit drugs market in the UK is worth £9.4 billion a year, but costs society more than double that figure.
If health considerations, the cost of crime and societal impacts are combined, the total cost of illegal drugs is £19 billion annually.
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said the Government will start publishing crime “scorecards” to identify where the criminal justice system is failing.
Mr Raab told Sky News’s Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme: “We are going to be publishing scorecards, both for general crime but also for rape, which means that we can see exactly where the system is working and exactly where it isn’t working, whether it is at the police stage, the prosecution stage.”
The Justice Secretary will be announcing a prisons White Paper, which he said needed a “proper plan” instead of having inmates “stuck” on methadone to treat heroin addiction.
Mr Raab said he wanted to drive up prosecutions for rape. Among the measures being considered were methods to get swifter read-outs from the mobile phones of victims so they are not deprived of their phone for an extended period, which he said deters some women from coming forward.
The Justice Secretary also said he wanted to extend the use of pre-recorded testimony in rape cases.
“We have been trying this in a number of crown courts. I actually think this is something we need to roll out nationally. I want to look at the right way to do that,” he said.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.