Dear editors and journalists at the Derby Telegraph
An article was printed in your paper on the 10th of November with the misleading headline ‘Claims by Derby North MP that government cuts to blame for city’s drug problem disputed’. The first paragraph of the article reads:
“The head of a Derby charity that helps drug addicts has disputed claims by an MP that government cuts are to blame for the city’s problems with people abusing the former legal high Black Mamba.”
This is misleading.
The initial quotes in the article are from Larry Waller, chief executive officer of the Padley Group, who states that drug misuse is a complex issue that will always exist. We, Larry Waller and Chris Williamson MP, stand by this perspective. Indeed, problematic drug use has many causes and that is why criminalisation and demonisation are not helping.
Later in the article Larry states:
“Whilst I don’t think it’s solely down to cuts, as an organisation, we do need more funding to tackle all the problems we deal with, not just people on Black Mamba. The budget for dealing with homelessness in Derby has gone, for the whole of the city, from around £15m to £1.5m. That’s for a series of organisations across the city.”
Larry therefore does not dispute that austerity plays a role in the increase of problematic drug use in Derby. The haemorrhaging of funds for mental health services, youth services, and prisons, to name but three public services, is coupled with economic problems such as debt, low wages and the housing crisis, which is causing an increase in Derby’s drug problems.
That message was the key point of Chris’ video on black mamba and is not disputed by the Padley Group. As such we ask that you print a correction.
Furthermore, the reporting by the Derby Telegraph of drug users in Derby as ‘Black Mamba Zombies’ does nothing to help the issue. The demonisation of drug users only makes this issue worse.
Larry Waller and Chris Williamson MP