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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 October 2005, 16:55 GMT 17:55 UK
Mother begs to keep son in jail
By Nick Dermody
BBC News, Wales

Anita Walters did one of the hardest things a mother can do to help her drug-addicted son - she begged a court to keep him in jail so he could have treatment.

Anita and Christopher Walters
Anita Walters said Christopher would be clean of drugs in jail

It was a tough call, but one she is sure saved his life. Then she was only practising what she preaches.

For Mrs Walters is a founder member of the self-help group Fads, Family Awareness and Drugs Support, in the Cynon Valley in south Wales.

It is a line in the sand drawn by the families who have been blighted by the onslaught of drugs in their communities.

The organisation has the backing of South Wales Police who, says Mrs Walters, now have a much more enlightened approach to dealing with drugs users.

It has been a long time since her front door was kicked in by officers looking to bust her son, Christopher.

The police are much more willing to see drug users as victims in need of help rather than the cause of the area's drugs problem, she says.

Even so, she believes enforcement is still a vital part of beating the scourge of drugs, which in 2003 led to almost 300 deaths in Wales.

So when Christopher, 28, appeared in court expecting to be freed on bail, she stood up and pleaded for him to kept on remand.

Image of a syringe

She said: "We nearly lost him on the Christmas two years ago, but I pushed for him to go to prison. I argued in court that if he was let out on bail he would be dead in six months.

"He hated me something awful then but it got him the treatment he needed.

"I wasn't going to lose my son to drugs. I buried one son through natural causes. I don't intend losing one to drugs."

Her day in court came after living with Christopher's drug addiction for 15 years. He began dabbling when he was 12.

She said: "He started off with cannabis and amphetamines. Later on it was heroin. He was stealing to fund his habit, he was shoplifting and he was stealing from me."

'He could go back on'

"When I asked my son why, he'd tell me he'd want to be one of the boys. At the time he thought it was good. He was under no pressure from home."

When she finally put that pressure on, Mrs Walters won a victory over drugs' hold on her son.

But like any family struggling to cope with a drugs misuers, she knows she must always be on her guard.

"You never know what's around the corner. I did think when he went on to treatment, "that's it now, the end of the line," but it doesn't work out that way.

"Something could happen today or tomorrow and he could go back on."

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