Wednesday 17th June 2015 8pm-9pm BST
DarkCity Cannabis Compassion Club
Neil Woods undercover officer
In this week’s episode of Dark City Compassion Club we welcome our first undercover police officer (or, rather, FORMER (we hope!) undercover officer), Neil Woods. Neil now works with LEAP UK (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition UK), but previously worked for the police for 23 years and undercover for 14 years. However, in the words of our own Sarah he has now “turned his life around”.
Neil’s interrogation started simply enough, with Neil telling us about himself and his time in the police. Neil grew up in the Reagan era, a time of exaggerated messages about drugs such as “one smoke of crack and you’re addicted for life”. So Neil was primed when the option to join the police came up and joined – literally – on the flip of a coin.
He seems, however, to have changed his ways, and quickly acknowledges that the drug laws, by their nature, infringe on civil liberties. A good start! The conversation moves from civil liberties to policing by consent and how this tradition is being undermined by the war on drugs. Why aren’t doctors prosecuted under the Misuse of Drugs Act? Who is the victim of a drug crime? Is horse riding more dangerous than drugs? What about ping pong?
Neil answers all our questions with the precision and professionalism you would expect of a man of his experience. But, did he make a slip up, or even tell us a little white lie? Martin Foran – who was kinder to Neil than one might expect, given his own extensive history with the police – had just one very astute question for Neil, a question I think is on everyone’s minds:
“You worked on the hard drugs, cocaine and heroin and things like that. For you to work undercover in that, surely you had to become a user to be trusted?”.
Neil’s answer was a clear no “Well I didn’t, no, I always managed to bluff and keep the bluff going, so no, I didn’t have to,”.
This seems pretty categorical, and the conversation moves on. But later, in an exchange with Jeff Ditchfield (of Bud Buddies), Neil seems to contradict himself when he reveals that he did, in fact, use drugs on no less than three occasions! Neil, perhaps, might like to clarify what he meant. In the meantime, you can decide for yourself by listening to this episode in the archive!