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Drug experts and MPs hit back at comparisons of Manchester to Brazilian drug cities

By Mihaela Ivantcheva

A UN report on drugs that compares Manchester with Mexico City and Brazil is causing a backlash from MPs and experts in Manchester.

The shocking comparisons provoked headlines such as The Sun’s ‘Violent drug dealers have turned parts of Britain into South American-style no-go areas’.

However, the report caused a backlash from experts and MPs in Manchester. Michael Linnell, from Manchester-based drug agency Lifeline Project, condemned the document as ‘out of date’ and ‘out of touch’.

John Leech, MP for Manchester Withington, said: “It is ridiculous to compare Manchester, with 35 murders a year, with cities with at least 6000. Of course, Manchester has its issues with drugs and gangs, but nothing on the scale of Mexico City or Bogata.”

Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham were cited in UN’s International Narcotics Control Board report for 2011 along with Mexico and Brazil that are notorious for their raging drug gangs and on-going drugs problems.

Among others, the document examines the problems of social cohesion, social disorganization and the growth of marginal communities globally and how governments have responded to the problem. According to the report such communities are increasingly the target of drug dealers and drug abuse and are present in Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, the USA, Britain and Northern Ireland.

The report, based on figures and statistics from 2010, highlights a number of steps taken by governments globally that aim to tackle the problem. The report states: “Police forces in British cities such as Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester, like their colleagues in Brazil, have also sought to address the problem of incidents involving firearms by combining law enforcement responses to the problem with community policing initiatives aimed at building trust and mutual support with community members.”

Professor Hamid Ghodse, President of the United Nations’ International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), said: “There are communities within the societies which develop which become no-go areas. Drug traffickers, organised crime, drug users, they take over.

“Examples are in Brazil, Mexico, in the United States, in the UK – Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester – and therefore it is no good to have only law enforcement, which always shows it does not succeed.”

Yesterday it was reported that Prof Ghodse said he had been misunderstood as he did not mean to imply no-go areas still existed in the city.

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