Monday, November 13, 2006

Reid Suffers Humiliation over Drugs Payout

As John Reid and Gordon Brown compete with each other for the "I'm considerably tougher than YOW" (Harry Enfield, 1994) vote, Reid has suffered an humiliating setback, as two hundred drug taking prisoners are given £10,000 each. The have taken the Home Office to court under the Human Rights Act and Reid has caved in and settled before the case got to court.

Apparently they were forced to stop taking heroin or other drugs in jail and this breached their human rights, can you believe? The case has been funded through legal aid - ie by you, the taxpayer and will end up costing the best part of £4 million. David Davis has accused John Reid of a "massive failure of political nerve".

So that's great, then. 192 drug addicted ex-cons with £10,000 in their back pockets. Nice to know that the taxpayer's hard earned pennies will be used to shoot up a bit of 'smack', isn't it? I suppose it cuts out the need to steal it.

48 comments:

neil h said...

Prescribing heroin would be a much better use of tax payers money than waiting for the junkies to commit a crime, catching them and then paying to keep them in prison where they learn to be better burglars.

Anonymous said...

Come on Iain, never let the facts stop you being outraged. These were criminals who were receiving treatment for their addiction before being admitted to prison. Once in prison their treatment was stopped and they were made to go cold turkey. Petty crime is caused by addicts funding their habit. We need to treat all these addicts whether they are in prison or not and solved the underlying problems which cause them to take drugs. Perhaps you are not part of the caring Conservatives and hug a hoodie party!

Jonathan Sheppard said...

Anonymous - does going cold turkey work? And secondly - I assumed that if in prison your rights were being curtailed - or have I got that wrong?

Would alcoholics on the outside be given a few pints every night in jail??

Anonymous said...

Please don't think I'm trying to 'inject' cynicism into this debate, but doesn't this decision indicate that we need to think about de-criminalising drugs ?

The current approach doesn't seem to be hugely successful. After all, prostitution [which itself is not technically a crime] is not really 'legal' in this country in the way that it is in some others.

Police views seem to be changing on the wisdom of this, but there is a debate on the pros and cons.

I am reminded of a sign on Bristol City harbour. It says 'Do not swim in the harbour. Penalty £ 50'. If the fact that being exposed to the poisons, toxins and diseases in the water don't put you off from swimming in it don't put you off, then the fact that you might get fined for breaking a by-law is hardly likely to make a difference.

Perhaps we need to see the threats of putting addicts in jail through a similar light. Any thoughts ??

raincoaster said...

Well, if you want to do this the ruthlessly effective way, you do what Vancouver does: get them off the drugs, then facilitate them going right back on them immediately. More fatal overdoses occur after detox than at any other time, a fact which hasn't gone unnoticed among those here who want the Downtown EastSide junkie-free in time for the Olympic tourism. They're doing this under the guise of "harm reduction" but I live here and I can tell you that the way they've implimented it escalates the rate of mortality, rather than reducing it or social harm.

Your fellows probably discontinued the heroin treatment in prison because such programs are notorious for their porousity, ie the heroin would make it into the black market in the prison. I could tell you some horror stories about the methadone program in Canadian prisons, but some of you will have delicate stomachs, so I shall spare you.

Cold turkey is indeed rough, particularly when it's involuntary, but perhaps you could rewrite sentencing guidelines to include that? It would be as big a deterrent as any I could imagine.

Johnny Norfolk said...

Its this sort of thing that is ruining Britain. can you believe that any government allows this to happen.

Anonymous said...

_Excellent_ use of the indefinite article Iain ! I could never even pronounce "an humiliation" with a straight face, let alone correctly use it in a sentence !

Well done !

AnyonebutBlair said...

It just defies comment, it's so unbelievable and apalling

dr.strabismus said...

Well done Iain! News 24 has just reported this (at 11:50)as 'breaking news'.

Why on earth would the BBC want to sit on this story for a couple of hours? Has someone been making a market on whether Reid would crumble?

tyger said...

It’s a legal no-brainer. If the drug problem is diagnosed, then it’s a medical problem in the eyes of the law. I.e. it should have been handled. The prison service would have lost anyway.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know more about this because I find it very strange. Its not helped by vague references to human rights legislation and assault in the Beeb report. Hopefully more details will emerge and we can make a proper judgment then.

But in the meanwhile I would said that it is well established in Strasbourg case law that the prohibition on inhuman treatment in Article 3 imposes an obligation on the state to protect the physical well-being of prisoners. Convicts go to prison as punishment not for it. The Strasbourg Court accepts that the medical assistance available in prison hospitals may not always be at the same level as that outside. But the State is under a duty to ensure that the health and well-being of prisoners by, among other things, providing them with the appropriate medical treatment. This is enlightened self interest of a sort because we want people off the smack etc, as it is the root cause of offending in many cases.

This is what I find puzzling. Presumably the drugs regime is one which is approved by the Home Office prison doctors as means of getting people off the junk? As such the Court has said that a measure which is a therapeutic necessity cannot be regarded as inhuman or degrading!

Anonymous said...

what a joke this is. The HRA is a disaster.

They knew it would be even in 1997 - they were talking about banks not being able to repossess houses due to the right to a home life, etc.

We had a perfectly good set of rights in the UK before the Labour party started messing around with them.

javelin said...

The left wing can't help themselves - "upset" is a dirty-right-wing word to them.

I'm surprised the Pope doesn't point out to Tony and Cherie that in the Catholic church there are both sins of commission and sins of OMMISSION.

purplepangolin said...

I was shocked to read your post, but if anonymous 10:34 is correct then I think the authorities were foolish to stop their treatment.

james higham said...

...Apparently they were forced to stop taking heroin or other drugs in jail and this breached their human rights, can you believe?...

Iain, what's the point beyond apoplectic called?

Peter Hitchens said...

I have seen somebody go "cold turkey" over 48 hours I had the pleasure of sharing a police cell with him over a weekend and it didnt amount to £10,000 worth of torture.
I also saw both him and his brother (both heroin addicts)in prison a few days later and they were both absolutely fine.
This really is an outrage.

G Eagle Esq said...

'
Sehr geEhrter Iain

Harumph, harumph - Please remind me

1. why did Cruella's inflict the Human Rights Act on us

2. We were told it would cost only £60 million - how much has it actualy cost ?

3. Why is there no effective mechanism to ensure that the £10,000 apparently being paid to these criminals isn't promptly confiscated in order to compensate their victims whose Human Rights they have disregarded

Harumph, harumph .... harumph

Your obedient servant etc

G Eagle

GlassHouse said...

I could point out that the HRA gave no 'extra' rights - it rather allowed people to exercise their EXISTING rights without having to travel to Europe.

But the facts dont seem to matter to you guys - I'm waiting for the first person to say "This is an example of EU interference"

*sigh*

mistral said...

So now we have arrived at the apogee of political correctness. We have infringed the "rights" of drug addicted scumbags by not pandering to their addictions whilst in prison.

Not only that, they have been financially compensated and presumably most of them will now go out and score a lot more with the money.

Does anybody find this outrageous? Are people so deluded, so conditioned by lies and propaganda that the very people who cause most of the crime, most of the arbitrary violence, most of the personal misery, spread AIDS, infect babies and have not one fragment of remorse, are now to be championed as victims?

Please, will the last sane person to leave this country turn on the gas and leave a slow fuse?

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:50

The HRA is not a disaster. Its a pretty feeble bill of rights. Its being used as a whipping boy or an excuse. Delete as applicable. No doubt this case would have gone to Strasbourg where we would in all probability have lost.

The pre-1997 state of affairs was hardly better. We led the table for loosing cases at Strasbourg. In any case Crazy Dave Cameron wants a new British bill of rights - though his CPS speech on that is nonsense in places.

What we need are good lawyers who can argue the cases properly.

Anonymous said...

My understanding of the law on this issue is that the Treasury Solicitor was right to settle out of court. One consolation is that it has saved taxpayers money being wasted going into lawyers pockets in an indefensible case.

Prisoners now come under the NHS, as such they are entitled to the same treatment as members of the public outside. Because these prisoners had drug habits outside and were registered users, they were entitled to receive methodone whilst in custody. The Prison Service has been caught out trying to save money by denying the necessary medical treatment to these prisoners, and as a result these prisoners suffered.

Even prisoners have to consent to medical treatment. This so-called medical treatment of cold turkey is abuse of power. It may not have been torture, but it certainly was a cruel and unusual punishment to subject them to.

Perhaps, now we can get around to decriminalising drug use and put it in the treatment bracket?

Anonymous said...

On that logic, locking someone up is also denying them their human rights!

Should we continue to supply them drugs, on tax payer of course, whilst
they are in prison? Pay for prostitues?

Anonymous said...

What we need is someone in government who really knows about drug taking: where's David

Anonymous said...

The govt should have fought this.

I am sure you can make a case that

a. "cold turkey" is a legitimate treatment; and

b. If cold turkey is not considered a legitimate treatment, that the damages should be less than £10,000

Clearly John Reid was too nervous of the political fall-out

towcestarian said...

anonymous 10:49

By all means de-criminalise drugs. But if it happens how long do you think it will be before the first legal-aid funded case claiming that some junkie's habit was caused by the government relaxing the law?

griswold said...

The one's who sued are simply doing what any sensible person would do. See an opportunity and grasp it. Its the law thats an ass.

That apart these addicts wish to remain addicts and their payout will last an average of 30 days before they will start thieving again and then back to jail to collect another £10K.

Other addicts being put through forced cold turkey have been cured and remain so and are grateful for the violent return to sanity and their lives.

Take your pick. Should we sympathise with the £10k group or simply adopt the policy "If you thieve to feed your addiction make sure you can take the pain".

Expat said...

It seems to me that the Prison Service should tip off the victims of the junkies so that they can attach the funds as compensation for the crimes that put the junkies into prison in the first place. Then the Prison Service should make sure that plenty of heroin is made available in the prisons so that the scum can kill themselves before their release dates. Everybody would then be happy - even the professional complainers (who should really be happy because they will have something else to complain about).

Anonymous said...

Reid may well be suffering humiliation. However, David Davis has failed to act like a true opposition on this issue. The government acted illegally, the prisoners acted legally. What part of this does David Davis fail to understand? His line of attack should not have been against prisoners who are being law-abiding, but directed at those who are responsible for breaking the law in this issue. David Davis has only made the situation worse by his senseless remarks which add insult to injury. Is it any wonder that such crass stupidity does not deserve to be in government? Why should we replace one knee-jerking Home Secretary with another, who suffers from the speak first without thinking about it, and without seeking advice from those who know more about the subject?

William said...

I wish people would stop talking about addiction as if it were a disease or illness. It isn't. And this sort of talk is the starting point of this sort of nonsense. Being addicted to a controlled drug is in fact evidence of habitual criminality. It should be "treated" accordingly.

Anonymous said...

Forget the HRA. Totally irrelevent. The prisoners would have won the case anyway under UK laws. It is just yet another example of cr*p Home Office lawyers allowing something to go on they know full well would never stand a chance in court - then the taxpayers picking up the pieces. of course it might also have had something to do with political interference, which you had just as much under Howard's Tories as under the present lot.

Casual Observer said...

If Tesco ran the Home office and was fucked off back to Scotland the world wpuld be a better place. I'm glad I live in Franmce...

Casual Observer said...

If only Tesco ran the UK... If only.

Shotgun said...

I was just wondering whether that fucker Cherie Bliar was involved in this as it sounds very like the kind of case she likes to fight...

Shotgun said...


neil h said...

Prescribing heroin would be a much better use of tax payers money than waiting for the junkies to commit a crime, catching them and then paying to keep them in prison where they learn to be better burglars.


Even better and cheaper would be for the taxpayer to fund the cost of a 9mm parabellum...around 18p, and shoot the fuckers, then allow those of us in society to get on with our lives peacefully and without fear of crime.

They did not have their treatment withdrawn anonamong, the treatment was reduced as it is with all these treatments, bit by bit.

These were drug addicts, remember how they became such self inflicted? Also they are criminals...not some sufferer of a disease which they had no choice over...

The fuckers deserve no compassion and should be summarily executed, or made to work and pay for their own fucking treatment, and fuck all you bleeding heart twats that think us hard working tax payers who have never had so much as a parking ticket should fucking pay and provide for the fuckers.

Islam has very little right, but in this case they are spot on.

youdontknowme said...

The worst decision ever.

I hope the government charge those prisoners for food, rent and anything else that they can be charged for. Hopefully they will get all that money back.

mitch said...

what concerns me about reid is that he asked for 100 days to sort out the home office and he didnt but hes still there.I emailed said madhouse on this matter and no reply.

Realist said...

I can't see why everyone gets so worked up about this. The electorate were gullible enough to be conned into into voting for Mr Blair's excellent government, not once but THREE TIMES. This is only another example of Gordons redistribution policy. Take money off the decent members of society and dish it out to the arseholes of society. Where's the problem? we've got the government we deserve.

Anonymous said...

At least anyone coming out of prison knows where to fgo to find illegal drugs...

Down the back of John Reid's sofa.

Anonymous said...

At least anyone coming out of prison knows where to fgo to find illegal drugs...

Down the back of John Reid's sofa.

Terry Hamblin said...

Methadone treatment for heroin addiction is not universally considered to be an appropriate treatment. It is not given in Sweden, for example. Many believe, that, like other forms of drug addiction (nicotine, for example), it is best treated by simply withdrawing the drug and nursing the individual through the 'cold turkey' phase. Normally 'patients' would have to 'consent' to this approach, but if it were the only form of treatment available there would be no choice in prison, and out of prison the only choice would be obtaining the fix illegally.

It is nanny-statism to think that we have a responsibilty to offer any help with drug addiction other than to lock them up where drugs are unavailable. Our prisons connive at drug addiction. Drugs are available in prison because some of the screws are bent or because visitors are not searched thoroughly enough.

Young people choose to take drugs. There are enough warnings about the consequences. Sparing them the consequences is cruelty not kindness.

raincoaster said...

terry hamblin is right; a recent study concluded that methadone treatment had virtually the same rate of success as going cold-turkey.

Quite honestly, the people administering methadone don't think of it as a way off drugs; they think of it as a way off heroin and onto a lifetime of methadone, and so it has proven to be, year after year.

Cutting off a prisoner's heroin is NOT "a medical treatment", it's not-providing medical treatment for a condition which does not actually require treatment. It is not a biological necessity for the body to continue to have heroin; it is not generally dangerous to detox. It certainly IS excruciating, however. So fucking what? Cry me a river.

Bob Piper said...

"At least anyone coming out of prison knows where to fgo to find illegal drugs...

Down the back of John Reid's sofa."

... or ask Wee Georgie for a snort?

raincoaster said...

And it must be said that the reason there's a heroin treatement (ie disbursement) program on the outside is to prevent these guys from stealing stuff to support their habit. There's precious little risk they'll be pulling B&E's in prison, so there's no reason to continue the heroin. They're not going to be stealing to support their habit when they're already in prison.

Anonymous said...

While we are on drugs.......

How is it that the tabloids make it pretty clear that all these pop stars, footballers'wives, models (politicians?) and TV presenters who attend all these parties and other events, which are mostly heavily publicised to media papparazi etc, are forever knocking back the 'E's and coke in wholesale proportions, yet the prosecution of any of these class of people by the forces of Lora Norder are rarer than a follicle on an Oaten pate?

Anonymous said...

"How is it that the tabloids make it pretty clear that all these pop stars, footballers'wives, models (politicians?) and TV presenters who attend all these parties and other events, which are mostly heavily publicised to media papparazi etc, are forever knocking back the 'E's and coke in wholesale proportions, yet the prosecution of any of these class of people by the forces of Lora Norder are rarer than a follicle on an Oaten pate?"

well, it could be because it costs thousands to pursue the case, there is no guaranteed chance of conviction - especially as they can afford very good lawyers, and - this is the crucial bit - most people don't give a shit.

And finally, even the most stupidly authoritarian meddlesome widdecombe of an armchair politician would probably agree, if pressed, that a few footballers' wives getting giggly and shagging each other is less damaging to the fabric of society than a junkie smashing your granny over the head for her pension. One law for people who do things whch don't directly hurt anyone else and one for people who'd steal your kidneys for the price of their next pipe works nicely for me.

Anonymous said...

Well said Neih H (at the top of these comments) - second what you've said. It's clear that none of our politicians have the political courage to radically reform our nation's approach to drug policy.

verity said...

I have read comments by former drug addicts saying that giving up a heavy smoking habit is more difficult than giving up drugs.

"Weaning" people off drugs is utterly stupid. As is methodone treatment, to which they then become addicted. And they don't need "treatment". This is all make-work rubbish.

Of course, all this is defeated anyway by the ready availability of drugs in prison. We have to pose the question, why are drugs so easy to obtain in prison?

trumpeter lanfried said...

The pity of it is, when each of these smackheads was sentenced the judge will have said "I make no order for you to pay financial compensation to your victim(s), because I am sending you to prison and there is no realistic prospect that you will ever be able to pay compensation" (or words to that effect).

Now they have come into money. But it is too late for the court to re-open the question of compensation. The law should be changed, so that when a convicted prisoner comes into big money, the money should be frozen until the question of compensation for his victim(s) has been revisited.