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It isn’t just in the U.S.

August 22, 2013
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Racial disparity is a fact of drug prohibition.

Release (UK) has released a new report: The Numbers in Black and White: Ethnic Disparities in the Policing and Prosecution of Drug Offenses in England and Wales

Here’s just a taste of their findings:

Every 58 seconds someone is stopped and searched for drugs in England and Wales. [...] Just over 7600 were of children aged 15 or below. [...]

For those from the white population it was 7 per 1000, increasing to 14 per 1000 for those identifying as mixed race, 18 per 1000 for those identifying as Asian and to 45 per 1000 for those identifying as black.

Black people were, in other words, 6.3 times more likely to be stopped and searched for drugs than white people, while Asian people were 2.5 times more likely to be stopped and searched for drugs and those identifying as mixed race were stopped and searched for drugs at twice the rate of white people. [...]

Across London black people are charged for possession of cannabis at 5 times the rate of white people. [...]

Black people in London who are caught in possession of cocaine are charged, rather than cautioned, at a much higher rate than their white counterparts. In 2009/10 the Metropolitan Police charged 78 per cent of black people caught in possession of cocaine compared with 44 per cent of whites.

Again, it doesn’t even have to mean that those who write or enforce the laws are racially motivated (though some may be). Even if the people are not racist at all, a drug war is by its very nature flawed and cannot help but be enforced in a way that is racist in its results. This is a result of the challenges of enforcing laws against a popular consensual crime and societal factors of community and poverty.

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Pete Guither is the editor of drugwarrant.com

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