BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Monday, 20 May, 2002, 06:47 GMT 07:47 UK
Drug victim's parents back Dutch law
Rachel Whitear
Rachel Whitear died with a syringe in her hand
The parents of heroin victim Rachel Whitear believe she would be alive today if Britain had adopted The Netherlands' more liberal approach to drug use.

Following a trip to Amsterdam, Mick and Pauline Holcroft said they were impressed by that country's openness about drugs and called for a massive overhaul of Britain's laws.

The couple, who published shocking photos of 21-year-old Rachel's body after she overdosed, also supported cannabis cafes for breaking the link between drug users and street dealers.

Following their visit to The Netherlands for an ITV1 news programme the Holcrofts praised the availability of immediate help in that country for those with problems and said the same approach in Britain could save lives.

Rachel Whitear
Rachel may have lived, say her parents

Mrs Holcroft, from Withington, Herefordshire, said Britain should have learned from the Dutch approach to drugs.

She said: "I have to think there's a far bigger chance that Rachel would still be with us.

"I'm obviously very saddened that if Rachel had had those opportunities, she may still be here."

Mr Holcroft said: "I do honestly feel after talking to some of the experts and talking to heroin users, that there is a system in Holland that can help the families as well, and you would not feel quite so helpless."

'Instantaneous help'

The Holcrofts said heroin users at an Amsterdam drop-in centre they visited were appalled by the circumstances in which Rachel died.

The body of the former university student was discovered in a bedsit in Exmouth, Devon, three days after she overdosed in May 2000. She still had a syringe in her hand.

Mrs Holcroft said: "It was amazing meeting those people.

"When they needed help, it was more or less instantaneous. Certainly within two days, to be put on a programme to come off it.

"They can't believe the circumstances under which Rachel died and were shocked by the photographs"

Education

Rachel's parents, who have previously backed a campaign encouraging heroin users not to inject, said drugs education is a much higher priority in Dutch schools.


In Britain, you have dealers with cannabis in one pocket and heroin in the other

Pauline Holcroft
They supported the idea of teaching children as young as nine about the dangers of drug use.

Job Arnold from the Drug User's Union in Amsterdam told them: "Recent history has shown Holland as a country that is open about drugs and drug users, and young people can see for themselves that really a lifestyle with heroin is not a very promising option."

Despite The Netherlands' more liberal approach to drugs fewer young people use them than in Britain.

'Loving girl'

Rachel moved on to heroin after smoking cannabis and the Holcrofts believe she may never have made the jump if cannabis cafes existed in Britain.

Mrs Holcroft said: "I think the key issues are that cannabis is kept separately to other drugs.

"In Britain, you have dealers with cannabis in one pocket and heroin in the other.

"When they run out of one, they give people the other. That's how they get hooked on heroin."

Remembering her daughter as a "very outgoing, loving girl" and added: "We couldn't help remembering Rachel on our trip, and knowing that when she wanted help, it wasn't there."


Click here to go to BBC Hereford and Worcester
See also:

01 Mar 02 | UK Education
01 Mar 02 | UK Education
01 Mar 02 | UK Education
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes