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The problem made visible

After two false starts, spring appears to have arrived for good in Southern Finland. I saw anxious articles in the news about the plight of migratory birds that returned too soon and now were probably going to die, but on my commute this morning I heard a beautiful concert. A non-insignificant number made it.

I’ve been thinking about the plight of another migratory species: drug addicts. Last week I came across a group of them who had made a stop on their travels to shoot up. They were huddling outside a public toilet, behind a bus stop, and as I watched, one pulled down his bedraggled jeans and injected into his inner thigh.

It made me angry – why do the rest of us have to stand by and pretend we’re not seeing it and aren’t bothered by it? I’m hugely bothered by it! I wanted to yell: HEY! You can’t do that here! But the image of being attacked with a dirty needle, however improbable, stopped me.

I hate the impunity of public bad behaviour that evidently has no deterrent. I’m worried about it becoming normalised – both that the addicts and other miscreants think it’s okay to do whatever they want, and then street security will crash, and that law-abiding citizens will lose their sense of horror and pity, and there will be less incentive to help people who need help.

After spring number 1 (we are on spring #3)

It’s curious that never once in my twelve years living and working in central London did I see someone shooting up. Even seeing obviously drugged up people was rare. Now I see them every time I go to the office, as my Metro stop seems to be a hub for drug addicts of every age, sex and race. Yet the total number of drug addicts in London must dwarf that of Helsinki. Do the police move them on more in London? Where do they go? Does all drug-dealing take place in the estates or something?

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