CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Camden’s top cop says middle-class cocaine users are ‘fuelling societal problems’

Affluent cocaine users said to be fuelling rise in knife violence

07 August, 2018 — By William McLennan

Camden’s most senior police officer has joined a chorus of condemnation of middle-class drug users, saying that it was “definitely not a victimless crime”.

Borough commander Iain Raphael said that cocaine users were “misguided” if they believed there were no consequences to their consumption.

Police have stated that a rise in knife violence this year was partly the result of gangs competing over lucrative drug markets.

Dr Raphael’s comments echo those of Met Commissioner Cressida Dick, who said seemingly socially-conscious users were “hypocrites”. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said middle-class users were helping to fuel gang violence.

Dr Raphael said: “This idea that you can buy some coke and there are no consequences to that, is definitely misguided. There is a drugs market that enabled that drug to get there, that enabled that illicit behaviour to go on, that may involve county lines, that may involve young people. It is definitely not a victimless crime. If you are fuelling that market and you are a part of that market then you are part of the societal problem.”

While criticism has come from authorities on all sides, it is unclear if it will result in a change to police tactics, which largely targets drug supply, rather than use.

Dr Raphael said, who holds a PHD in criminology, said: “Will we solve a lot by arresting a lot of people for what they would class as low-level cocaine use? Probably not.

“What you should focus on is the markets that bring those drugs in. You will need to focus upstream, where that drug has come from, the gangs.

“Policing needs to focus at the sharp point of the harm where it’s going to have the most impact. “That doesn’t mean anyone has impunity. We do stop and search. You can be caught.”

While visiting Camden in April, after four young men from the borough were murdered within weeks, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told the New Journal that “smart, wealthy people taking cocaine in a private luxury flat somewhere feel oblivious to what’s going on around them, whereas in reality they are part of the problem”.

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