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Viewers on drugs

Vicky Taylor | 13:18 UK time, Tuesday, 23 May 2006

When the Six O'Clock News commissioned a survey into the UK's attitude to the problem of drugs, the results were perhaps surprising.

A graphic of the BBC News websiteThree-quarters of respondents said they believed drugs were a problem in their area and of the 1,900 people surveyed more than half said the police weren't doing enough. As often with these statistical insights into life, we ran a debate on the Have You Say pages of the news website to capture more of these experiences.

The responses were extraordinary. Literally, hundreds of e-mails telling of direct experience of the problem of drugs; users of all ages and backgrounds, anguished parents and friends of users, shopkeepers and householders affected by dealing outside their front doors and the GPs and teachers coping with it all.

One wrote to us: "Well done, BBC! It was brave decision to take this investigation as main extended item. It is the only way that the public will have a full picture of the enormity of the problem and the lack of action to deal with it."

Many painted a hopeless picture: "Drugs are the scourge of this country and have been for decades. Drug dealers just laugh at the police because they have been operating for so long now they fear no one. The drug business is so powerful and effective that it is hard to break down their operation."

There were also a huge number of people who felt drugs weren't in themselves the real culprit. "The biggest drug problem in my area is alcohol," wrote Simon from Fife, who was the top recommended comment on the debate.

It's by getting this direct route to our audiences that we can explore issues that are at the heart of our communities. We're not policy makers and may have not come up with any answers, but this week we really did feel we had touched the nerve of a nationwide problem.

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