Charles Walker says recreational drug users have the blood of young people on their hands

Charles Walker MP speaking in the House of Commons on knife crime, March 2019

Speaking in a debate on the Offensive Weapons Bill, Charles Walker calls for much higher fines for being found in possession of cocaine as the drugs trade is the root cause of knife crime on our streets.

Mr Charles Walker (Broxbourne) (Con)

It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Louise Haigh).

I should like to focus on knife crime prevention orders. If we are to reduce knife crime, we need to address the issue of drug usage. So many of the young people dying in our communities are dying as a result of the drugs trade—particularly cocaine. We need to consider increasing the costs attached to the usage of drugs, because drugs are historically extremely cheap at the moment; and if you want to attack usage, you have to increase the costs attached to recreational possession. The Minister said that she had looked at dealing with gangs—she had looked at knife crime prevention orders—but I think we need to look at drug prevention orders.

I think it is appalling that the chattering classes, wherever you may find them, whatever their politics, are wringing their hands about the deaths of mostly young men and children on our streets and then, moments later, too many of them are shoving a line of cocaine up their noses. That is not a line of white powder; that is a line of blood, and users of cocaine have blood on their hands—the lives of many, many young people and children.

So I say this to the Minister. Let us not build more prisons. Let us not lock more recreational users up—but let us hit them in the pocket. If they are caught in possession of cocaine, if they are responsible for the deaths on our streets, they should be fined accordingly. Let us say that you are a City trader on £300,000 a year, Minister: you should be fined a third of your income—a third of your income—if you are caught in recreational possession. Then users might start to think. If they do not care about the young lives being lost on the streets, they might start thinking about the consequences to themselves and their finances.

It may be a City trader. It may be a Member of Parliament. It may be a doctor. It may be a teacher. But if they are using cocaine, they are responsible for the tragedies that are happening daily, and I think they should pay—pay for recreational usage. They should pay by being fined a significant amount of their income the first time they are caught in possession, 50% the second time and 100% the third time. When we introduce ​laws like that, Minister, people may start taking this matter seriously, and we may actually start to address the mayhem, destruction and tragedy that is afflicting so many of our communities.