Know your dope fiend

I live in South London.

Most days it’s safe – I say this despite the fact that in five minutes, I could walk you past the location of three murders over the last 12 months.

Yes, there is crime here and something needs to be done about it… although I’m not convinced Lambeth Council’s latest ‘name and shame’ idea will work. The campaign is predicated on coming to Brixton for the ‘right‘ reasons:

The posters, which are displayed at Brixton tube and on buses across the borough, show anonymous faces of ‘offenders’, listing their drug offence, the conviction they were given – and the unwelcome publicity they received as a result. These images are mirrored by partner posters that quote visitors who came to Brixton to enjoy the culture, food, and nightlife, rather than to buy drugs. The council says the over-riding message is ‘come to Brixton for the right reasons’.

So, come to Brixton to buy or sell drugs and you could end up on Lambeth council’s very own version of facebook, backed up by a print campaign.  Whilst the print campaign uses models, it appears the online campaign – hosted on the council’s website – doesn’t.

What I don’t understand is what happens if (and it may be a big if) an offender manages to turn their lives around. Ok to get rid of the profile then, or will it be left on the website as a permanent scarlett letter?

To me, whilst the press around the campaign suggests it’s targeting both buyers and sellers it’s the latter that I think they are really after – if there is no market, I guess the theory goes, there aren’t any dealers. At least not visible ones.

Is there a better way to use social media in this context? Will the announcement of interactive crime maps help?


2 responses to “Know your dope fiend

  1. There’s been a few occassions when I’ve thought something like this would be a good idea. However then I’m horrified to see it in practice.

    We would be on very thin political ice if someone wanted to do this with murderers or peadophiles, with concerns of vigilantism and mob rule.

    The strange thing about this site is what they’re prohibited from doing, surely we are all prohibited from exposing ourselves in public, and from possessing prohibited drugs. Plus a “no deal zone” by virtue of it’s existence suggests that there is a “deal zone”, am I missing something here?

  2. Jay,

    Couldn’t agree with you more. Have to say – a month into the campaign and the only noticeable change I’ve seen is some of the print ads being removed from the local tube.

    This month the apartment block I live in has lost a couple of bikes and had a few visits from the local drug dealers. Perhaps I’m in a ‘deal zone’ and didn’t realise…

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