Policing Drugs

Murji, Karim (1998). Policing Drugs. Aldershot: Ashgate.


Policing and law enforcement have been central to all aspects of drug policy debates over the last ten years. This study develops previous research by the author and is organized in three sections. Section one analyzes the rationale for drug enforcement and evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of four main approaches. It looks at the pressure on the police to take action in local drugs markets, particularly within a context where the police emphasize their responsiveness to public demands in a more "consumerist" age. It concludes with an evaluation of the debate over whether drugs ought to legalized or not. Section two focuses more on the media and coverage of crack-cocaine and ecstasy in the 1990s - particularly where these have been based upon police briefings and reports. One chapter develops this by looking at the ways in which the "yardies" have been constructed and represented as the "new black mafia". While the argument problematizes media representations, a third chapter takes issue with the conventional view that media is promoting a "moral panic". Using the example of ecstasy and coverage of the death of Leah Betts, the author argues against this perspective, showing its limitations. Section 3 examines welfarist policies directed towards drug users and minor drug offenders. An important feature of this has been the development of inter-agency initiatives between the police and drugs advice agencies. The background to this development is examined using a number of case studies to illustrate some of the lessons learnt at local levels.

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