This is the official blog of ex-Sgt Ellie Bloggs. I was a real live police constable then sergeant for twelve years, on the real live front line of England. I'm now a real live non-police person. All the facts I recount are true, and are not secrets. If they don't want me blogging about it, they shouldn't do it. PS If you don't pay tax, you don't (or didn't) pay my salary.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Class of Its Own

On Friday Mephedrone will become illegal. At least, it will become as illegal as Cannabis, which according to most of the under-18s in Blandmore, isn't actually illegal any more, innit?

When cannabis became a Class C drug, this enabled Blandshire Constabulary to scale down its response to the discovery of said drug in possession of someone. We started giving out 'street cautions', which is when you take the cannabis off the person, get them to sign an admission that they had it, and count it as a positive statistic towards Blandshire Constabulary's CRACKDOWN on illegal drug use. This was acceptable because Class C drug possession on that scale would attract such a small sentence it was considered better to deal with it without wasting hours of everyone's time in custody.

Now that cannabis is once again Class B, we deal with it in exactly the same way, because the alternative would drastically reduce our efficiency at dealing with drug offences.

Mephedrone has been classified as Class B. I'd like to tell you whether we plan to deal with it as a cannabis-sort-of-a-Class-B (confiscation and warning) or as an amphetamine-sort-of-a-Class-B (arrest and prosecution). But I can't tell you, because no one's told me. At least, if the email doesn't come tonight, they won't have told me. I don't even know what it looks like.

It's white powder, sarge, but I'm damned if I know what type.

I have however witnessed a wide variety of drug abuse, and the only drug that has ever scared the proverbial out of me is mephedrone. We once brought in a user roaring, foam sticking his hair to his head and splattered over his chin, his eyes lurching wildly like a caged creature. He wasn't drunk. He variously screamed, cackled, glared and relapsed into silence as he was booked in. During his constant supervision in custody, he screamed death threats to the sergeants, stripped naked and mimicked the movements of various sea creatures, and then got dressed again and abjectly apologised to everyone before threatening to rip out their throats once more. Several doctors despaired, saying he could not be mentally assessed until the effects of the drug were out of his system (mephedrone is supposed to last under an hour). Seventeen hours later, when I came back on duty, he was in exactly the same state. Apparently, he was quite a nice lad before that night. His parents were beside themselves.

I'm willing to bet if some of the proponents of mephedrone had seen this unfortunate boy, their views might have been a bit different. As usual, defence of the drug compares it to other more harmful substances, such as peanuts, alcohol and horse-riding, as if that's a basis for measuring all of life's hazards.

As usual, no one talking about it has actually experienced it at all. Except for this guy, who took his research to the logical extreme and quaffed a line of it in the name of science.

Having said all of that, I'm cynical about a knee-jerk law-change just weeks before a General Election. I'm cynical about the random classification of these drugs, and the lack of any real deterrent or sentencing if people do choose to use them.

If you're going to ban something, at least have a plan of how you're going to stop people using it.

'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.


Blogger Nick said...

Are you sure that was *just* mephedrone?

Suppose paracetamol was sold on the same informal basis as mephedrone was (and will still be, but now more dangerously). People wouldn't know the dose of each pill, and they would be dropping dead left, right and centre from liver failure.

Good thing it doesn't get you high, or else I suppose we would have to ban that too (except in California where they would have special "Medical paracetamol" laws).

This whole prohibition business is just crazy.

13 April, 2010 23:10

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If you're going to ban something, at least have a plan of how you're going to stop people using it."

Since when have the government, any government (especially Labour) come up with a plan of any sorts, let alone a plan to stop people using/buying/selling drugs. We can live in hpe and in the mean time keep on dishing out tickets and wasting our time on futile paperwork for the CPS/Magistrates to say NFA or give them some sort of Telling Off/Community Service. :-(

SW Copper

14 April, 2010 00:28

Blogger Bill Sticker said...

Seems to me that getting off your face on whatever is part of the human condition, and it is the Police's unhappy task to deal with the inevitable fallout. Whether it's booze, dope, or the latest 'happy' high, some people can't handle it and go Gorilla poo, others patently can. So where should the line be drawn?

Outright bans demonstrably place the market for intoxicants into the hands of criminals, with all it's attendant problems. A regime of 'legalisation' type licensing into the hands of the big bad profiteering Pharmaceutical companies. At least with the latter some kind of quality control could be maintained and fatalities minimised.

14 April, 2010 03:34

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yet another excellent piece Ellie.

Last November you wrote about the disgraceful treatment given to the 'drug czar' Dr David Nutt. In his statement at the time, he said; “It is crucial that UK policy is based on evidence and that scientists are able to offer unfettered advice without fear of reprisal. This principle should be the backbone of scientific engagement with government.”

In Britain today, whether to do with drugs, climate change or anything else, science seems to have been ignored, abused and debased by politicians. We need more of it, not less. Instead of 'evidence-based policy', we have 'policy-based evidence'. Some might say we're all being fitted up.

You should try dating a scientist - I think you'd get on well ;^) .

14 April, 2010 09:20

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Several years ago I had a period of working as a gaoler. we had one guy in one night from a neighbouring town who was high on cocaine. he had been brought in after attacking two of his mates within his own flat. about 4.30am the effects had worn off and he was put into a taxi (at his own expense and money up front of course)and allowed to go home. the next night when I started shift he was back in the cells again having taken some more of the same as soon as he got home but this time he had really flipped and the psychiatrist, social worker and Police surgeon were all there to section him. He was later taken to the local psychiatric ward. I don't know what happened to him after that. I never came across this latest craze though fortunately

14 April, 2010 10:30

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the Urban Service, the upward re-classification of cannabis resulted in a yet more Byzantine procedure for dealing with people found with it. The overall result is that it is now *less* likely that simple possession will result in arrest than when it was Class C...

14 April, 2010 13:53

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have tried a moderate dose a couple of times and found it a fairly mild stimulant. I think the people in the news must have been taking silly amounts to end up in the state they did. Not saying it's harmless or full of vitamins though.

14 April, 2010 14:28

Anonymous Mark said...

Madam Bloggs,,will you be making a comment about PC Jason Hanvey?? and the other low life...

14 April, 2010 20:17

Blogger Frankie said...

No instructions where I work either. I don't think street warnings will be a possibility though, as your picture points out, if we find a bag of white powder on someone we have no way to tell what it is so custody is usually the only option. Also as far as I am aware there is no field test for mephedrone so it will have to be sent for forensic analysis each time. Mind you, I have had a few arrests over the last few months for 'white powder' which have eventually been confirmed as mephedrone and the suspects nfa'd as it was not illegal.

15 April, 2010 20:10

Anonymous NottsSarge said...

As with most drugs, banning it will simply push it underground, raise the price and lead to a rise in acquisitive crime to fund a habit. The other thing it will prevent is long-term study of the effects of consumption, so there will be no considered medical or psychological opinion forthcoming.
I have no doubt that more people die or are injured having consumed the legal drug alcohol, but there are no signs of prohibition just yet.

No instructions here either. I'm not surprised, when all our arrest powers changed I had to brief the team from a photocopy of Police Review as we travelled to a job in the van...
Default position will have to be to arrest, I think

18 April, 2010 12:48


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