Neil Woods spent fourteen years (1993-2007) infiltrating drug gangs as an undercover policeman – befriending and gaining the trust of some of the most violent, unpredictable criminals in Britain.
With co-author JS Rafaeli, Neil's first book Good Cop, Bad War (Ebury Press) was a best-seller that recounted his life working undercover in towns and cities across England, infiltrating street level user scenes and gaining access to criminal networks. Neil's undercover work was successful (he even trained other officers), but he slowly came to the realisation that not only was his work taking a personal toll, but began to believe drugs policing was damaging some of the most vulnerable members of society, and having little impact on the activities of some of the most serious criminals. Neil eventually left the police force, and whilst supportive of policing in general, now campaigns for drug policy reform, arguing that current approaches are failing to reduce harm.
Neil's new book Drug Wars, co-authored again with JS Rafaeli, develops the themes first outlined in Good Cop but takes a wider look at why we have the drug policy that we do, and what can be done to make it better for those affected by drug-related harm.
The evening will feature Neil and JS talking about their new book, recounting some of the stories included, as well as celebrating the role of Merseyside activists and services in developing drug harm reduction. They will also explore how personal stories can influence drug policy, and hope to engage with the audience in discussion and debate about where things should go next.