Thinker's Corner

Drug Driven Crime (NACRO, 0171-582 6500, £2.50). This report builds on anecdotal assumptions about the causal relationship between drug misuse and crime, marshalling considerable statistical and factual information to provide a lucid and compelling account linking the two. The report finds that there are 130,000 "problematic" drug users in England and Wales, committing around £650-850 million of "acquisitive" crime each year. The report refers to a recent study showing arrested drug users in Brighton and Derby spending £400 a week - heroin and crack users were spending around £2,000 a week - with only a fraction raised legally. The report urges the government to remedy the "wholly inadequate" funding of preventative measures, citing the fact that while the government currently allocates £1.4 billion to drug-related spending, two-thirds goes on enforcement, with only a third earmarked for treatment, prevention and educational programmes.

Representing the Nations & Regions in a New Upper House (Constitution Unit, 0171-504 4977, £5). This report is a timely contribution to one of the great imponderables of British politics: what will the Upper House look like after the hereditary peers have been defrocked? The report argues that devolution and Lords reform are symbiotic and that we should replace heredity with some form of regional representation - the "natural" alternative. The report sets out the many problems that reformers will encounter, ranging from how the English regions will be represented when no regional assemblies currently exist, to how we can ensure that we maintain the "maturity and expertise" of the existing House of Lords. Creditably, this sober report recognises that Lords reform involves an arduous process of constitutional engineering that has a ripple effect throughout our polity and does not, therefore, lend itself to simple palliatives.

This article first appeared in Gordon Brown, the great feminist

1999-08-30