Reducing drug-related crimes

In the long term we must remove the motivation by providing accessible legitimate paths to higher status and prosperity: Education which is comprehensible to the urban youths but enables them to earn status and wealth in legitimate ways. For example it may initially have to be delivered in the local patois but it must aim to make students proficient in standard English so that they can enter higher levels of education and / or obtain better-paid jobs. Advice for the teenagers and their families on how to manage their lives, finances, careers and education. Access to resources such as books and the Internet.

Public libraries are the most obvious way to provide these. We must also provide legitimate short-term outlets for teenagers’ ambitions and energies. The most obvious one is sports, which will particularly appeal to the strongest, most competitive and most aggressive teenagers – the potential gang-leaders. I therefore suggest: Facilities for those who wish to play various sports on a casual basis. Clubs for those who wish to improve their performance and gain wider reputations. Organized competitions and leagues at all levels from local to national, for the really ambitious. Reducing crimes committed because of financial crises

Long term reduction in personal financial crises requires a fairly complex package including: Improved education to enable people to obtain better-paid jobs. Advice on personal financial management. Hopefully these crises will eventually become less common, but they will probably never disappear completely, so there will always be a need for palliatives: Cheap, quick, reliable legal advice for common types of case. Inexpensive but not subsidized loans to enable people to survive these crises without resorting to crime. Repayment should where possible be secured by small deductions from the borrowers’ incomes (including any welfare benefits).

Credit unions (see ABCUL 2003) should be encouraged as they provide a sense of local involvement, control and responsibility. There are at least two types of drug-related crime: Those committed by addicts desperate for their next fix. Those committed as a result of the mood-altering effects of some drugs. There are good reasons for believing that the War on Drugs is as unsuccessful as Prohibition was (The Economist 2001 a). About 10% of all arrests in the USA are for drug offenses and about 80% of that 10% are for possession, not for sale or manufacture (The Economist, 2001 b).

We need an objective review of drugs policy. This might well lead to legalization of some drugs (with regulation of their quality to minimize health risks), which would sharply reduce the prison population and, by lowering the retail price of legalized drugs, reduce robberies committed to finance purchases. The other long-term remedy is aggressive advertising about the dangers of specific drugs which are more harmful than alcohol and tobacco. This will of course have greater credibility if it follows an objective review of drugs policy.

We also need rehabilitation centers to help addicts and excessive users to give up their habits. Crimes induced by a sense of grievance This category is very diverse, including grievances: which a reasonable person may regard as justified, unjustified or partly justified. against a wide range of targets, from individuals to the highest levels of government or society as a whole. For as long as some areas are severely disadvantaged in incomes, jobs, schools, etc. there will be some grievances which are at least partly justified and should be at least mitigated by a combination of: economic redevelopment and improved education.