Re your report (Middle-class drug users could lose UK passports under Boris Johnson’s plans, 6 December), organised crime is a “bad thing”, with organisations that supply drugs such as cocaine and heroin connected to many other crimes. Gangsters make obvious villains in many policy narratives. But after 30-odd years examining substance use by young people, I suggest four measures that have nothing to do with additional penalties:
• Improve child protection: histories of abuse and severe adversity figure prominently in the development of adults who use cocaine and heroin habitually.
• Reduce social inequalities: the demand for drugs is greatest in neighbourhoods where young people grow up feeling they are already life’s losers.
• Create accessible and stable housing in the same neighbourhoods: this is the foundation for recovery in many drug users.
• Encourage the employment of adults with histories of drug use: so many people with criminal records find legitimate jobs impossible to get.
Prof Woody Caan
• Boris Johnson appeared in a police uniform in a recent photocall. While it is perfectly legal to impersonate a prime minister, impersonating a police officer is a criminal offence (assuming that there is an intention to deceive).
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