Pubdate: Sun, 09 Jan 2000
Date: 01/09/2000
Source: Observer, The (UK)
Author: Lorraine Hewitt
Authors: Lorraine Hewitt

This prosecution against Ruth  and John Brock (Comment, last week) was
brought and vicious sentences imposed under the 'Premises' section of
the Misuse of Drugs Act, which makes it a criminal offence for third
parties knowingly to permit heroin or cannabis use in their property.
This section was never intended to snare hapless parents, unaware
landlords or altruistic social workers and urgently needs revising.

Drug use and exchange is common and hard to control in NHS wards, in
prisons, in hostels and specialists' services. The majority of senior
staff in these disparate settings at some time will have made Ruth
Wyner's choice, to impose sanctions but not to report infractions to
the police. Indeed for many years it has been seen as good practice
for agencies to maintain strategic liaison with local police in return
for which the police do not harass them. This judgment unilaterally
undermines future co-operation between police and care services.

Lorraine Hewitt South London and Maudsley NHS Trust London