Undercover cop explains why Boris Johnson's drug policies won't work 11 months ago

Undercover cop explains why Boris Johnson's drug policies won't work

Boris' drug policies are destined to fail, say undercover cops

Ex-undercover police officers, many of whom with frontline experience of the War on Drugs, have slammed Boris Johnson's drug policies.


The Prime Minister on Tuesday revealed his 'Beating Crime Plan', which includes £65 million towards "dismantling" the UK's largest drug gangs, but former drug cops think the strategy will ultimately fail.

Johnson said plan "sends a very clear message to criminals - be they fraudsters, rapists, vandals or the vile individuals who prey on young children to run County Lines gangs - that we are coming for you."

County lines gangs operate from the UK's biggest cities such as Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and London. In order to spread the drug supply to smaller towns, cities and villages, they will often manipulate and use vulnerable people.


The PM said the drugs trade is responsible for the vast majority of violent crime in Britain.

"County lines drug-dealing gangs export the problems they cause to other parts of the country, using our roads and railways to send drugs and weapons from our cities to our villages and towns. Inevitably, these criminals export their own brand of violence."

The Police Federation was critical of Boris' plans, saying that fighting crime required greater investment and one of the country's most senior lawyers, Chris Daw QC, also pilloried them.


But perhaps the most scathing criticism came from an undercover police officer.

For 14 years, Neil Woods infiltrated some of the UK's deadliest drug gangs as part of his undercover role within the police.



"This old school, 'get tough' messaging from Boris is all the more archaic in the wake of the Black report on drugs," Woods told JOE.

Dame Carol Black's Independent Review of Drugs, published earlier this month, advocates for drug use to be treated as a healthcare issue, not a criminal one.

Woods is fully supportive of this, believing that his work as an undercover cop actually contributed to a rise in drug death and violent crime.


"The report clearly recommends a health approach to reduce deaths and crime."

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Woods previously told JOE that disrupting major organised crime gangs - such as those he took off the streets in Birmingham and Northampton - does nothing to reduce drug harm.

Instead, a void opens up, and this is usually filled by another drug gang often more violent and better-equipped to evade police.

The government is also proposing that every neighbourhood in England and Wales should have a named police officer in charge for residents to contact.

This, Woods says,  "shows a complete lack of understanding of just how busy police are".

"The cuts to policing since 2010 have not only reduced numbers but reduced specialisms and experience, you can't just get that back overnight, the service will take years of healing just to get back to the effectiveness that it had."

Woods now works in conjunction with the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP UK), a group comprised of current and former law enforcement personnel, all of whom advocate for the decriminalisation of drugs.

This is the best method to free up police time, according to Woods.

"The best possible way to free up police time and reduce crime is to follow all of the recommendations in the independent Black report that the government itself commissioned," he said.

"Invest in more diversion schemes to keep people out of prison. Invest in treatment, and especially Harm Reduction like heroin prescribing and Overdose Prevention Sites."