Police officers are ‘regularly taking ecstasy and cannabis’
The Independent – 17 July 2001
Copyright: The Independent
A subculture of drug use permeates sections of the British police force, according to new research by a criminologist and a former chief superintendent. The researchers found that some young officers, up to the rank of inspector, were regularly taking ecstasy and cannabis. Several officers also held “seminars” with their dealers, telling them what to say if they were arrested and where to stash their supply if raided.
Reports of the drug abuse among members of the British police service come at a time when there have been renewed calls for the decriminalisation of cannabis. David Wilson, Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Central England, Birmingham, spent two years gaining the trust of officers from several forces.
He said: “It was a startling result. From talking to a variety of police officers from a variety of forces I found that there was a very strong subculture of drug taking.” But he argued: “When you consider how many 20-year-olds take drugs it is not surprisingly that some of the people who join the police are also drug users. What was surprising was the willingness of some police officers to give their suppliers mini-seminars about how to avoid detection and what to do when arrested.”
Professor Wilson added that some officers also arranged weekends to Amsterdam to consume drugs and were heavily involved in the rave scene while off duty. The findings are contained in a forthcoming book, called What Everyone In Britain Should Know About the Police, which has been co-written with Douglas Sharp, course director of the Criminal Justice and Policing degree at UCE, who is a former chief superintendent of West Midlands Police.
The authors believe that police are “doomed to failure” if they concentrate on rebranding themselves as crime-fighters and “mini Robo Cops”. Professor Wilson said: “They need to actively engage in gaining the support of the public within the communities they serve.” Fred Broughton, chairman of the Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, disputed the new research. “It is our experience that police officers in England and Wales are law-abiding professionals intent on tackling the drugs menace, not adding to it,” he said.