Fred West prison cell holiday advert.

By Richard Shrubb

Cash-strapped West Midlands Police have been slammed for advertising a Halloween night’s stay in their Steelhouse Lane cells in Birmingham for £75 a night. To a skint bobby that may seem a lot of money for a night’s stay – to the rest of the public, it seems tasteless.

Here’s a real nightmare for the police:- if we taxed and regulated all recreational drugs, then the police may be in surplus and Police Commissioners would have no deficit to grandstand in the media over. They would largely have the Fred Wests of the world to deal with (easy enough to find them – many work in Westminster as Tory MPs) as well as teenagers messing about and of course the real and pressing danger of pissed people texting while driving to work in their BMWs. Society could change so much that those in power today would have their power base so eroded they could never be in power.

Sounds nuts? Let’s have a jaunt around real and estimated income for taxing and regulating.

Fred West prison cell holiday advert.

Help fund police by spending a ghoulish night in Fred West’s old prison cell for just £75.

Tax and regulate cannabis

A few years back a group of far-right activists dressed up as a cannabis legalisation political party did some fag packet estimates about taxing and legalising weed. The leader is a cokehead whore using bankrupt so given his behaviour in the real world, we can’t rely on his estimates. We can, however, look at a recently released estimate of national income increases in Australian from there.

The Australian government has recently released a document (that was previously marked Sensitive and kept from the public eye) that looked at the potential ins and outs of legalising cannabis. The headline figure net income to the government would be AUD $3,582 million, or roughly £1.975 billion. Net income accounts for the costs incurred to the government including regulation and policing.

This sits well with other estimates for the UK. However, Australia only has 24 million citizens and the UK has some 70 million. Assuming a linear increase that would take the UK government net income to £5.925 billion.

Let’s take a step forward. Prescribe all heroin? A major study in the British Medical Journal in 2005 that looked at some 430 heroin users in treatment found that the cost savings in terms of crime and healthcare were roughly €2 for every €1 spent. Assuming that all 140,000 opiate users saved the UK government £12,500 a year per person (2005 € figures translated to GBP)? That would be in the region of £1.75 billion.

So, we are saving some £1.75 billion on policing and healthcare by legalising hard drugs. We are making a net income of some £6 billion in cannabis taxes. A proper drugs policy would legalise and tax things like MDMA, spice and LSD – assume another £3bn in net income from those. £10 billion would be jangling in our pockets.

Would we need the £10bn for crime?

No. Police forces could probably get on well without much more cash. What would they need it for?

  • Hard drug related acquisitive crime (robbing grannies and shoplifting) would plummet
  • No drug dealers to bust
  • No gang violence as people protect their drug related income stream
  • Violent crime would still exist but at manageable levels. I have known very religious and sober men beat their wives. Others will murder for love in ‘crimes of passion’. You will never erase psychopaths like Iain Duncan Smith MP and Fred West from this world – they are malfunctioning humanity.


With £10bn in our pockets we could invest it in the NHS whose budget would do well in a world where drugs were truly controlled as opposed to left in the hands of criminals. We could invest in education too. Armed forces? Many of their roles would be empty too as we spend several billion a year on shooting drug suppliers and sinking their boats in the Caribbean.

What about booze?

A truly sensible drug policy would involve controlling a drug according to the damage it does to society. Could we somehow control the government’s estimated £52 billion a year on alcohol related harm? Could we make booze companies pay for that harm in taxes? That’s just under half the NHS budget.

The real nightmare

So, we’ve been for a wander around the data on what we could do. This sounds almost utopian doesn’t it? For those in power today this sounds like an utter nightmare of desperate levels.

There would be far fewer fears to sow among the masses to scare people into voting to be repressed. The police would not be able to bully otherwise innocent people. Methods of repression and class war by the ruling classes would run almost dry. We couldn’t be convinced to fear black / Asian / Irish people. How in hell then could those above divide and rule over us? A united society would make demands unheard of since 1945 when we created the NHS and Welfare State. We might actually be happy and fearless of our neighbours.

Most awful of all, we might actually unite to send those who rule by fear and loathing into the electoral wilderness for at least a generation. That scares them witless.

So how about it? How about really scaring those who rule by fear and loathing by demanding a world where people are left untroubled to enjoy their lives and supported where they fall. I’m not sure even Jeremy Corbyn could quite manage such an amazing change!

Richard Shrubb

Richard is a marijuana, water sports and electric vehicles writer based in Dorchester, Dorset. Living in Prince Charles model housing estate, Poundbury, he is an avowed republican, community and Labour Party activist. Visit his website at for more about what he does.

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