Neil was recalled from the undercover frontline in 2007, becoming a detective then detective sergeant. He was keen to use his insight and experience to transform drug policing and policy, but soon realized it was a fruitless endeavor – achieving change from within was impossible.
He left the police in 2012, and it was not long before he was thrust into a pronounced psychological crisis – diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder of a very specific kind, driven by guilt over the harm he'd done. This variety of PTSD is known as "Moral Damage" – it's typically suffered by war veterans.
"My various near-death experiences obviously contributed negatively to my mental state – but when I lay awake at night, those weren't the memories that dominated my mind. No, it was the faces of people I'd hurt, like Cami. There are so many things the public doesn't know about the drug war – I became convinced that with the inside knowledge and experience I had, it was my duty to tell them," Neil told Sputnik.
As a result, Neil joined international organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
(LEAP), becoming its UK chair in 2015 – a book documenting his experiences and reform ideas, Good Cop, Bad War,
was published March 2017.
Beyond saving taxpayer money wholly squandered on fighting a "senseless" battle, and stripping criminal elements of their most lucrative commercial venture, Neil believes drug regulation – particularly in respect of cannabis – is a child protection issue.
Less than one percent of UK teenagers can buy alcohol from licensed premises, but over half have easy access to cannabis – in inner city areas, that figure is even higher. Moreover, in addition to ending teenage drug use, he notes organized crime recruits via the cannabis market, turning low-level purchasers into lieutenants with the allure of easy money.
"Again, the exploitation of young people by criminals is a direct response to police tactics. If people like me weren't so successful, children wouldn't be used by gangs now. Getting them to hold and/or sell drugs is a great defense – it's borderline impossible to embed an undercover in a teenage racket. Also, they're highly disposable, easily manipulated, and readily bought. These are urgent child protection issues, and current policy has no answers for dealing with them," neil concludes.
Given the illicit drugs market is worth
£10.7 billion annually in the UK alone, and the prohibition of drugs costs taxpayers
£16 billion every year too, lawmakers may be well-advised to at least give Neil's arguments a fair hearing.