The House of Commons was host to a panel-led discussion on the connection between black communities and the way certain types of drugs are classified and criminalised, as well as the policing surrounding black males in particular who are found guilty of drug-related offences.
The discussion was organised after a new report on these complex policy concerns was written. The report, Structural Racism as UK Drugs Policy: An exploration of the views of British black youth and communities on UK drugs policy 2016, was authored by social policy developer Viv Ahmun of Coreplan UK, political consultant and commentator Lee Jasper and drugs recovery expert Annette Dale-Perera.
One key premise of the report is:
"...the differential impact of drug policy on BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic) groups in the UK is a consequence of structural state racism."
The findings were a product of consultation and research with a number of grassroots organisations who have regular contact with drug users, rehabilitation agents, capacity-builders, community empowerment groups and families. The participants who offered their views spoke about how problems such as those stemming from substance misuse and an over-representation of black males in prison could be solved.
One such participant was Temi Mwale of the 4Front Project (the project's website states its aim is "reducing serious youth violence"), who reported that there was a lack of trust and faith in authority from the young people she works with.
Speaking from the platform, Dale-Perera commented that her interactions with 4Front and other groups showed her that there was a need for more education about the effects of taking drugs:
The Voice 05/12/2016
Phoenix support offers information and signposting to agencies for individuals and parents whose children are taking drugs