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She will always be our beautiful girl. She was not just a prostitute

Link: Telegraph | News | She will always be our beautiful girl. She was not just a prostitute .

The spate of killings in Ipswich bears all the signs of those periodic horrors of its kind. Some inadequate, self-loathing male asserts the power of life and death over defenceless girls. Every generation produces at least one such monster. We must hope the police catch him soon. He seems to want to be caught.

Gemma Adam's life was brief and tragic. Of course, every prostitute starts out as a "normal little girl." Gemma was not the first prostitute to have been a member of the Brownies, nor to play the piano. She is certainly not the first to have gone on the game to feed a drug habit. Nor, for so long as the Government's "war on drugs" keeps prices high and the drug trade in the hands of criminals, is she likely to be the last.

Gemma and her boyfriend no doubt bought all the drugs they wanted. Does anyone in Britain who wants drugs, have any difficulty in finding them? No. The supply chain works, but it is run by criminals, is correspondingly expensive and (as criminals are no respecters of consumer rights) it is often contaminated.

If purchased legally; processed in conventional factories and sold at a typical retailer's mark-up in Boots, the drugs Gemma died for would have cost less than tobacco. Their purity would have been regulated and their price "sin taxed" (like tobacco). The tax proceeds could have been used to fund drug education and rehabilitation programmes, so that drug users - as a group - would have paid for their own choices.

Had the drugs been legal, Gemma would not have been driven to the underworld. She would not have been on the game. She might even have retained her job. As her habit would not be criminal, she might have been more open with her family, her doctor, her friends. They would have been better able to help her. One day, she might have seen the dangers and changed her ways.

Now that can never happen. She has died a violent, squalid death at the hands of a monster.

The Government's drugs policy is not to blame for her death. The killer is responsible for his own actions. Gemma is responsible for her choices and for the risks she took. But the Government's ineffectual disruption of supply and the consequent increase in the price, made her situation more dangerous than it need have been.

If the history of the 20th Century teaches us anything, it is this. The law of supply and demand cannot be repealed. Massive forces were brought to bear during a century of totalitarianism in order to try to suppress the market. Nothing worked, not even the most brutal, sadistic force. The Government means well in trying to suppress drug use. Its efforts are both well-meaning and popular. But another law that cannot be repealed has taken its toll. The law of unintended consequences always exacts a price for every well-meaning error. Daytime television sentimentality kills. "Wouldn't it be good if ..." is a terrible basis for law on any subject. Cold, hard objectivity is the only sensible approach to making law.

Viewed with cold, hard objectivity there is a certain sense in which the government's "war on drugs" contributed to Gemma's death. It certainly didn't help her.

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