Middleclass drug users should not be treated leniently Lord Chief Justice says
Cocaine use among wealthier households is said to be at its highest in nearly decade with 3.4% of 16 to 59-year-olds in households earning over £50,000 saying they had taken the drug in the past year.Asked about The Daily Telegraph’s campaign for a legal duty of care on the social media firms to combat abuse and online harms, Lord Burnett said that any such move would have to be global.“What is so striking about the abuse on social media is that many people seem to think it doesn’t matter what you say or write on social media,” he said. Cressida Dick hit out at middle class cocaine users who worry about issues like the environment and fair trade but believe there is no harm in taking CocaineCredit:PA Middle class drug users should not be treated leniently by the courts because they are fuelling “distressing” levels of knife crime among the young, the Lord Chief Justice said yesterday.Lord Burnett of Maldon said there was a growing recognition that law enforcement should focus not just on drug suppliers but also that “users perhaps should be looked at in a less benign way.”He said the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick was “absolutely right” that affluent drug users “should bear very much in mind the huge social damage that they are doing further down the chain.”“She had in mind all the county lines problems that we have where particularly young vulnerable kids are being used to run drugs all over the country,” Lord Burnett told his annual press conference. Asked if he believed the courts should take a “less benign” approach to middle class users, he said:“It’s important to look at all cases individually but if ever it was thought, for example, that affluent people caught with class A drugs should be viewed as really not very serious offenders, I certainly don’t agree with that.”Lord Burnett, the most senior judge in England and Wales, expressed concern at the rise in knife crime, up 16% in a year and at its highest level for eight years. He was particularly worried that carrying a knife had become a habit for some young people. He said: “As the statistics show, there’s an increasing number of knife cases coming through our courts. A distressingly large proportion of these cases involve young people or children.“We as a society have to come to terms with the fact that increasing numbers of people, particularly young people, are carrying knives as a matter of habit.“There are two particular things that seem to be consistent factors. First, carrying knives as a matter of habit, often for protection, leads people then to use them in circumstances that they would not otherwise do. That’s a cultural problem.“There’s undoubtedly increasing violence centering around drug trafficking which is another underlying problem which society has got to grapple with.” “There seems to be a tendency particularly among those who like to shout a lot to resort to social media without any thought.”He said judges had been subjected to abuse online but were not unique, noting that the abuse of politicians was “utterly unbelievable.”He said he could not comment on a matter of policy but he added: “It seems to me that regulation of social media is something that is almost too big for a single country to deal with because so much of the social media networks are international by nature.“My instinct is that there needs to be a global response to some of problems that have resulted from abuse of social media rather than simply a domestic one.”Another area of concern over social media, he said, was the way it allowed people to hide behind an anonymous identity to do “all sorts of harmful and mischievous things.”“That can include undermining the rule of law but [that is] part of a much bigger picture Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.