David Lammy MP is one of many who has suggested that a tougher approach to drug law would reduce knife crime..
This morning, during an interview about London's soaring knife crime problem, David Lammy MP told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that "the police and our country has lost control of [the] drugs market". To some degree, he's right – but arguably, neither the government nor law enforcement ever had control of the drugs market in the first place, something the Home Office acknowledged in a 2017 report evaluating the national drugs strategy.
Lammy rightly said "there is no single cause" for the spike in fatal stabbings, but in denouncing the police's approach also seemed to be arguing that more drug policing would lead to a reduction in violent crime – a sentiment echoed by many on social media. The evidence, however, would suggest otherwise.
If politicians and police really want to tackle the rise in knife crime, drug policy reform is an important part of the solution. We should move away from the same old prohibitionist policies and instead focus on implementing strategies that treat drug use as a health and education issue, rather than a criminal justice matter. In recent weeks we have increasingly heard calls for an intensification of stop-and-search to tackle knife crime. However, these calls fail to properly analyse how this police power is currently used in London and how stop-and-search can contribute to young people losing trust in the police, leading them to take matters into their own hands.