Drugs, social control and social exclusion

Event Date: 28 June 2011
Room B34 Birkbeck Main Building
Birkbeck, University of London
Malet Street
London WC1E 7HX


Law on Trial 2011: Monday 27 June – Saturday 2 July



Difficult times call for new thinking. This year’s Law on Trial addresses law and legal institutions from the perspective of social justice. Sessions will consider economic democracy, labour rights and market regulation. We will also be addressing the politics of legal education, law and drugs policy, the future of legal aid and inclusion and exclusion in the legal profession.

Law on Trial provides a platform on which academics, trade unionists, practitioners and activists can present alternative and progressive thinking about law and its relationship to society and economy.


Drugs, social control and social exclusion

– Should syringe exchange programmes be lawful?

– Is the decriminalisation of possession of controlled substances for personal use consistent with international law?

– What are the political issues involved in effecting drug policy reform? -How are drugs offences policed and prosecuted?

– What human rights issues arise in the context of drug use and availability in prison and places of detention?

– What are the particular challenges involved in drug use by children and young people?

These are the kind of questions that will be addressed in this session, which will explore the inter-relationship between drug-control laws, human rights and social exclusion. The session will comprise an overview of the key issues, an expert panel discussion and audience Q&A. It will be of interest to anyone concerned about the way in which the state regulates drugs and drug use, and the impact of this on the full enjoyment of human rights.


Introduction by Dr Matthew Weait (Reader in Socio-Legal Studies and Assistant Dean, School of Law, Birkbeck)



Rick Lines (Harm Reduction International) – Deliver us from Evil

Niamh Eastwood (Release) – How are Drugs policed and prosecuted in the UK?

Sophie Strachan (Positively UK) – Drugs and HIV (AUDIO HERE)

Dr Michael Shiner (LSE) – Politics and drug policy reform (AUDIO HERE)

Panel discussion moderated by:

Baroness Vivien Stern CBE  (International Centre for Prison Studies)

opening intervention by:

Damon Barrett (Harm Reduction International)


Please note that only the first two sections of the event were recorded

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