Saturday, June 3, 2017
Good Cop, Bad War My Undercover Life Inside Britain’s Drug Gangs by Neil Woods with JS Rafaeli (Ebury Press, ISBN 9781 7850 32707)
This is a riveting read at two levels. First it is a real-life story of how for 14 years the author, an undercover police officer, infiltrated drug gangs and had criminals put away for a combined total of 1,000 years. His courage and commitment are extraordinary and the risks he takes extreme. On one occasion an arm is wrapped around his neck: ‘I saw something flash in his right hand. Then I felt the knife. It was pointing straight into my crotch, just hard enough that I could feel the point on the base of my penis.’ He talks his way out of it.
The second level is the story of the author’s gradual disillusion with his work, as he realizes the futility of prohibiting the drugs trade, exemplified when he has a brutal criminal jailed for nine years and a major drugs cartel broken up. This simply created a vacuum in supply soon filled by others.
The last chapter of Good Cop, Bad Cop is pure gold: a magnificent summary of his findings and plea to end the war on drugs: ‘Legalize and regulate the supply of narcotics and at a stroke you deprive the most vicious gangsters in the world of the $450-billion annual income that enables all their operations.’ Happily, though Woods has left the police, he is not lost to the cause: he now works as chair of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition UK, campaigning for legalization and regulation of the illegal drugs market. His book makes an unanswerable case – as does a new book in New Internationalist’s NoNonsense series, Legalizing Drugs by Steve Rolles. The momentum for a sane policy on drugs is gathering pace.