BBC Three

Archives for May 2012

Speech Debelle on Britain's Hidden Homeless

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Speech Debelle Speech Debelle | 17:55 UK time, Monday, 28 May 2012

Presenter - Speech Debelle

Britain's Hidden Homeless aren't represented in any government statistics. These are people with no fixed abode, who are sofa surfing, squatting, who the council can't afford to help because they're not a priority, people who are long term 'visitors' at different friends' houses or go back and forth on night buses all night long. These are people who may be working alongside you.

Young people without family support and no way of scraping together a deposit are stuck because without somewhere to live, they are in constant deficit. The stress of finding somewhere to stay every night can cause depression and instability, and being a young single homeless person means you are not treated as a priority for council housing, so you're left with few options.

I felt passionately about making this documentary. I've had my own experiences with being homeless and have met many others in similar situations. The lack of stability, the anxiety of not knowing what would happen next, the impossibility of planning for the future is something that nobody should have to go through.

I wanted to highlight this growing problem; people just don't realise the scale of it. It is frustrating to see, particularly when the government are trying to cut legal aid for housing issues, reducing the little help that is available and hostels are closing.

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The situation has got much worse since the time I spent sofa surfing and in hostels. There's far less space in social housing. This year, housing benefit will not support 25 - 35 year old people claiming for a flat - they will have to get rooms in shared houses. Also, because people are now unable to buy their own homes there is now less space in the rental market. Unemployment is rising. People are downsizing. All of this creates a housing squeeze that is felt most by vulnerable young people.


Contributor - Steven


The programme shows the tip of the iceberg, and I'd like to thank the young people involved for allowing us to film them. Stephen's last scene is very powerful and inspiring. You have to remember that not having a stable home can have such a huge emotional effect that it becomes easy to get stuck in the same situation for too long when faced with many practical difficulties. And as for some people not featured here - their sense of worth is such that they have dropped out of society entirely. This is why places like hostels with careers advice and counselling are so important. And the cuts affect the survival of many such projects.

For me Sam's story was very poignant. She's a graduate but because her mother had to downsize and Sam hasn't been able to find work, she has found herself homeless. The economic downturn is creating a generation like Sam who, even with a university degree, is bearing the brunt of the cuts. Her story shows homelessness could happen to any of us.

With this economic crisis, many young graduates have to accept internships which only pay expenses. So only those with wealthier parents to support them are able to take this path. That means ambitious young people from less fortunate backgrounds are at a disadvantage straight away and more than you think are already homeless, sofa surfing and sleeping rough secretly.

Many won't even speak up about being homeless because it's such a shameful subject to speak about. However, this issue is not going away anytime soon, in fact it's likely to get worse. I hope that by seeing Britain's Hidden Homeless people will realise the importance of the issue and help me to keep drawing attention to a problem facing more and more young people every day.

Britain's Hidden Homeless is on tonight at 9pm


Are My Fake Breasts Safe?

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Gemma Garrett Gemma Garrett | 13:56 UK time, Monday, 21 May 2012

Presenter - Gemma Garrett

Former Miss Great Britain - Gemma Garrett

In 2008 I had implants because I had asymmetrical breasts - one was a bit bigger than the other and I was very self-conscious about it. However the implants were far too big for my small frame – and even worse they were PIPs (Poly Implant Prothese). I soon became ill and discovered that they had ruptured and had to be removed. I opted not to have them replaced as my faith had been shattered.

The French implants hit the headlines in 2010 after it was revealed that they contained industrial silicone and were more prone to rupture than others. They were banned and the French government recommended that all women with PIP implants have them removed, although the British Government have not gone this far.

I like to keep the implants to show people how “glamorous” they are. It makes me feel emotional looking at them, thinking that they were inside me. Unfortunately the rest of them are still in my body. Who knows what lasting effects they are going to have?

When I was approached to make this programme, (Are My Fake Breasts Safe? - Monday 9pm) I was anxious and excited.  The past year had been so hard for me and I didn't know if I was strong enough to take on the challenge.  I'm now so glad I did!
But what about the other 50,000 women in the UK and almost 400,000 worldwide who have been fitted with implants made from industrial grade silicone?  With no-one taking responsibility, they are left desperate. Making this film, I met women affected by the PIP scandal who felt like they had a "ticking time bomb" in their chest.

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I’m always quick to complain that women with breast implants are stereotyped but I realised that I’m no different. When I started filming, I fully expected to meet glamour model wannabes and self-obsessed prima donnas.  Instead I travelled the country meeting a whole range of women of different ages who have had implants for many different reasons.

Most shockingly, I spoke to young school girls who are simply undeterred by the PIP scandal. My younger friend, Carly, seemed dead-set on having breast surgery even though she knew about my experience. I’ve told her that there’s nothing wrong with her boobs and that she would be putting herself through a major operation every decade perhaps for the rest of her life.  It has left me wondering if enough information about the risks of plastic surgery is out there.
I met mothers who just felt it was the confidence boost they needed after having their children. Other women saw themselves as "deformed" when one breast didn’t grow. One twenty year old I met had implants – not PIPs - because one breast had grown much bigger than the other and the surgery has since caused her major problems.

Many of the women had thought long and hard about surgery and had come to the conclusion that the benefits outweigh the risks. Vicki had PIP implants because she felt totally flat-chested. When she decided to have them taken out, I went with her to the surgery.  The implants were removed just in time - they were starting to rupture. 

The programme sees me tackling the question, “Are my fake breasts safe?"  With more women signing up every year for breast implants, I can’t help but wonder where this pressure to look perfect comes from and if the only safe way of having bigger boobs is to wear a padded bra?

Are My Fake Breasts Safe? is on Monday 21st May at 9pm.

Free Speech - The morning after the night before...

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Cherry Healey Cherry Healey | 18:06 UK time, Thursday, 17 May 2012

Cherry Healey - Panellist

Well last night’s show saw Free Speech reach new levels of debate, with topics getting the panel fired up, the studio audience fired up, and you guys at home SO fired up that we were a global trending topic on Twitter. High five yourself right now.

We don’t know about you but we feel for the panel sometimes, facing the comments, the questions and the Power Bar of truth. Here’s what last night’s panellist Cherry Healey had to say on it all…

I was utterly terrified before I went on stage and I thought everyone would be able to tell, but as I got in to it I realised it was nothing to worry about.

The discussion flowed, the other panellists were really interesting, and the questions from the audience were great.

But it went so fast! It disappeared in a flash, and I didn’t have a chance to say everything that I wanted to. But that wasn’t the point. Free Speech isn’t here to solve the issues being discussed, it’s here to set the debate and get people thinking, and it's got me thinking.

The audience was brilliant. I would have been disappointed if they hadn’t got fired up - I was expecting that and Bristol well and truly delivered. The one guy who was shouting a lot definitely got some air time, and was passionate to say the least. Although he maybe stopped some other people asking questions that they were waiting patiently to ask, he did seem to unite the audience and made us all laugh a couple of times as well.

I felt that some audience members took a bit too much time to make their points, and occasionally it felt like they were going off track, but then I guess they might say the same about us on the panel!

I would have liked to have engaged with the audience a bit more, maybe with some back and forth like Kojo and Jamal did, but in the heat of the moment everyone is trying to speak so it’s understandable to come off and wish you could do it again.

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I was really surprised at how many of the audience and panel were up for re-thinking the drugs policy. I thought there would be way more people opposing the idea of decriminalising drugs, but a lot of people seemed to have a well thought out argument in favour of it. There is a big difference though between legalising and decriminalising, and I wish I’d made more of a point of that now.

As for the Power Bar, I would love to be the kind of person who wouldn’t mind about what it says, but obviously that’s hard to do. I was nervous for the reaction but it was really interesting to see how the audience were responding as the show was happening.

Jamal Edwards' pic of the group as they head home.

Kojo, Cherry Healey, Jamal Edwards and Michelle De Swarte head home.

The debate continued for the panel as three of us shared a train home, and for anyone following the banter on Twitter you’ll know it was quite an interesting ride!

Free Speech for me was as it should be; exciting, nerve-wracking and thoroughly thought-provoking.


So that’s what Cherry made of it all, but what about you? Free Speech is shaped by your opinions so please do tell us what you thought either in the comments below, or on our Facebook page or Twitter.


Free Speech - Biggin' up Bristol

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James Emtage James Emtage | 13:40 UK time, Wednesday, 16 May 2012

I was gonna clean my room, until I got high. Or so said Afroman. 

But with a recent Guardian survey revealing that more Brits have tried cannabis than they have energy drinks, maybe he was right.

So Free Speech has decided to head to Bristol for a debate on the legalisation of drugs, live tonight at 8pm.  

It’s a topic that has sparked MASSIVE conflict online already, with hundreds of you posting reactions to our drugs video we launched in last week’s blog. If you haven’t yet watched it, check it out below:

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But we’re not just talking drugs tonight. No no… we’re also talking about the big issues you’ve been stirring up over the last month on our Facebook and Twitter. One of those issues is unemployment, where a recent Bristol study found that 56% of young black males are out of work. We’ll be asking whether employers need to take some kind of positive action and actively give young black men more opportunities.

We’re also talking private schools, sexism in rap music and a little bit of footie, if we have time. Cos that’s what you’ve been talking to us about, and every Free Speech show is defined by what you’re discussing.

Joining Jake and Michelle is an awesome line up of opinion makers, movers and shakers:


Panellist - Jamal Edwards


Jamal Edwards: Founder of online youth channel SB.TV, Jamal is one of the most sought after young entrepreneurs of the moment. 



Panellist - Cherry Healey

Cherry Healey: The star of many a quirky BBC3 documentary, Cherry is known for asking questions and getting answers on subjects people might otherwise ignore. You can read her own blogs here



Panellist - Kojo

Kojo: Dubbed 'The Fresh Prince Of Hackney' Kojo is a talented comedian, DJ and Choice FM Breakfast Show presenter. 

Panellist - Alexandra Swann


Alexandra Swann: Once described as ‘the future face of the UK Independence Party’, Alexandra is a rising star in the world of right wing politics.

But we don’t just want to hear what these four have to say. We want to know what you think about what they have to say, and we measure that using our amazing twitter based opinion tracker: The Power Bar. 

Using the right twitter hash tags you can say whether you agree or disagree with each panellist, and in real time you’ll charge their power bar either up or down. 


The Free Speech     power bar.


If you’re not on Twitter then chill your beans and hop on to Facebook instead. We’ve got hundreds of people posting all the time giving their thoughts on the daily debates, both on and off air. 

And if you’re a social media sloth and aren’t on either, you can leave a comment in the box below. Michelle will be reading as many comments as she can live throughout the show from Twitter, Facebook and the blog – so get commenting. NOW!

Free Speech is on an earlier time slot this week: 8pm, BBC3, Wednesday 16th May.  

Jake Humphrey kicks off the debate on drugs

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Jake Humphrey | 15:30 UK time, Friday, 11 May 2012

Presenter Jake Humphrey

What do a university library in East London and a sports hall in Doncaster have in common? 

So far in 2012 they are the two places to have broken new ground by hosting Free Speech for BBC Three.

Ironically at both venues the audience, the odd passer by and even some of crew made comments such as; ‘not like Monaco is it?’ or ‘bit different to F1 mate!’  Of course a uni on the Mile End Road in London’s East End, and a public pool next to an shopping centre in Doncaster are a little different to the places F1 frequents, but I think that’s the beauty of Free Speech.

Some of the places that Formula One visits are all about style, by complete contrast, I think Free Speech is all about substance.  So far we’ve not been afraid to highlight important, often emotive, issues such as benefit cuts or prison re-offending rates.

Equally, I’ve like the fact that the audience and the panel have enjoyed topics where they’ve had a laugh as much as a debate; be it Radio 1's Gemma Cairney cycling around London, our social media jockey Michelle De Swarte doing stand-up comedy about chavs, or the clear disappointment in Doncaster that they came third in a poll to find out which city in the UK is having the most sex!

And now on to show three, coming live from Bristol at an earlier time of 8pm next Wednesday. We’re kicking off a debate on drugs: should they be decriminalised?

There’s already been a lot of chat online about this. We had four young writers give us their opinion in a blog last week, and today we launched a video debate with SB.TV on this very subject, which you can check out here:

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So what do you think? Should the Government consider legalising drugs? 

I’m sure the Brisolians will have a lot to say when we’re live in the studio, but Free Speech is a chance for the whole country to get involved in the debate as well.

When you tune in at 8pm next Wednesday, there are a few ways you can be part of the show and its debates as well. If you just want to dip your toe into the water then follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook

Maybe you fancy just diving straight in?  In that case, by using hashtags you can influence the ground-breaking Powerbar that lets the panel know whether the audience at home agree or disagree with their viewpoints.

The other option is to climb up to the 10 metre board and dive in head-first by sending us messages online through twitter, facebook or the comments on this blog below that may well be read out by Michelle and influence or add to the debate on the show.

We’ve had the show and our panellists trending on Twitter, and generated thousands of online messages and opinions across the country.  Free Speech day comes only once a month so make sure when it’s here in May, you’re part of it.  One of our main topics will be the legalisation of drugs – so if you’ve got an opinion, then share it with us!

Free Speech is giving a voice to an audience that I don’t think are well enough served in this country.  This is a unique opportunity for you to make a real difference. We’ve had MPs, entrepreneurs, media figures and musicians on our panel, but you at home are the most important ingredients, so Wednesday at 8pm, make a date with us.

Free Speech is on Wednesday at 8pm

Snog, Marry, Avoid? New series, new presenter!

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Ellie Taylor Ellie Taylor | 11:00 UK time, Friday, 11 May 2012

Presenter -   Ellie Taylor

Hurrah! Snog Marry Avoid? is back on Monday 14th May at 10.30pm and awesomely enough for yours truly, they’ve let me present it! I’ve had a brilliant time filming the show and even if I do say so myself, I think it’s a real corker of a series with some jaw-droppingly outrageous contributors.

One of the most memorable of this series has to be Kate from Manchester, whose pre-makeunder style is unlike anything I have ever seen in my life. And I’m from Essex so I’ve seen A LOT. Talking to her was like talking to a human totem pole and an animal sacrifice all in one. And she collects her pubes in a jar. Need I say more.

Contributor - Kate

Kate from Manchester

Then there is Hannah from Newport. The phrase ‘she is the colour of mahogany’ has been bandied about many a time on this show, but seriously, SHE IS THE COLOUR OF MAHOGANY. It was like talking to the wardrobe from ‘Beauty and The Beast’ but with longer nails and a Welsh accent. Wait ‘til you see her makeunder; it’s one of the most drastic changes I have ever seen on the show.

The makeunder team who work with the contributors are fab. The transformations they’ve created have been startling, and for someone like me, who once used red food colouring as instant hair dye, it’s been a real education. I’ve learnt so much from them, like heated rollers are not in fact for blue-rinse grannies, but are actually a super easy way to create curls that can survive even the heartiest Manchester rain shower.

I’ve also learnt that toothpaste is a great way to get rid of fake tan tide marks. It certainly sounds better than scrubbing your streaky bits with a towel creating strange friction burns leading to an awkward conversation with your mum... apparently...

This series also sees me and POD hit the streets of the UK, travelling all round Britain, from Cardiff to Chelmsford, Newcastle to Liverpool on the first ever ‘Snog Marry Avoid?’ roadshow.

While we were on the road, POD challenged me to try out a few of her worst fakery crimes, like cat claw nails, Rapunzel hair extensions and even a bit of a lip enhancement  along the way (think Pete Burns in a frock with an Essex accent...)

This basically means that thanks to POD, in every episode there is an ‘Ellie walking round looking like a tit’ section which is usually something I save exclusively for 2am on a Friday night near a kebab shop.

Some of the looks POD made me try I really hated, like getting ‘Scousebrows’ in Liverpool. I looked like a child had been let loose on my face with a marker pen and a grudge. Some of the Scouse girls get away with it beautifully... I am not one of those girls...

Presenter   - Ellie Taylor

Ellie's Dolly Parton/Cher Lloyd blow-dry!

Then there were the things I tried out that I liked a little bit too much. Just wait till you see my hugely voluminous Geordie blowdry – I can only describe the result as a cross between a young Dolly Parton and an old Cher Lloyd. It was magnificent and quite possibly the best 30 minutes of my life, until POD made me brush it out of course... if ever there was a time to use a sad emoticon, this is it :o(

Anywho, I’ve had an absolute blast making the show, and I hope you all approve of Snog’s very own mini-make over! Happy PODing!

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Snog, Marry Avoid returns on Monday 14th May at 10.30pm

Small Teen Turns Eighteen - Jazz Burkitt

Jazz Burkitt

Small Teen Turns Eighteen is on Monday at 9pm

I was born with restricted growth, which means I am the size of an average nine year old, and this affects what I do every day – the world isn’t built for people of my size.  I try my best to not let my condition get in my way and am determined to live my life like every other teenager because after all, I am the same - I love fashion and going out with my friends.  The only thing about my condition that holds me back is other people’s attitudes – my life would be a lot easier if people were more accepting, because if I am fine with having restricted growth then why shouldn’t other people be?

Since the age of 15 my life has been followed by cameras for a series of BBC Three documentaries.  The first documentary called ‘Small Teen Big World’ saw me take the huge decision to get in contact with my estranged dad, who I had not seen since I was born.  My dad was addicted to drugs and my mum made the heart-breaking decision to bring me up without him in my life.  But mum wasn’t alone; she had her parents - my lovely grandparents - to help raise me and without them I wouldn’t be who I am today.

I then had a four part series made about my life called ‘Small Teen Bigger World’.  In this series my dad got in touch and became a huge part of my life – he moved to Wales to be with me and mum.  Finally my life and family felt complete.  However at the end of the series I found out that my dad had relapsed and had started to take heroin again. My world had been turned completely upside down and my family torn apart.

Clip from Small Teen Bigger World:

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When I was first reunited with my dad it felt strangely natural and I was really comfortable around him.  I thought it would take longer for me to be willing to let him into my home and my life, but it was actually surprisingly easy to let him in.  We got on really well and the best part of our relationship was that we had the same sense of humour – we were always laughing together.  Dad also loves animals, so that was a bonus, as I love animals too so we could talk for hours together about them.  He was like an 18 year old trapped in a 40 year old man’s body.

Although we laughed and joked there was always a sense that the past was hanging over him and our relationship.  Even before I found the drugs there was always a constant reminder that he hadn’t been part of my life for 16 years – it was like I had to tell him my whole life story and explain everything and every person in my life –that was really difficult.

The worst part of finding out that dad was back on drugs was knowing that once again he had chosen them over me.  He did it when I was a baby and now he had done it again.  It made me feel worthless and like I wasn’t worth choosing.  When I was reunited with him I made it clear that although he was welcome back in my life, I only wanted him around if he was clean from drugs.  He knew the rules and what would happen if he turned to drugs again, but he still took the risk.

Deciding not to have dad in my life anymore until he gets clean from drugs was definitely the hardest decision I have made, but I know that in the long run it is best for everyone.  I didn’t want drugs in my life let alone in my house – imagine if a friend had stayed over and they found them in my room!  Having him in my life was just too much of a risk.   

This new documentary follows me coping with the devastation of finding out my dad is back on drugs.  Mum had become so reliant on his help that she found it difficult to cut him out and I completely understand her choice to continue seeing him but I needed a break and some time to think. My Grandparents were in America visiting my Aunty Shelly so mum and I decided I should visit them to give me chance to think.  Whilst I was in America dad started a methadone detox programme, but did it work? You’ll have to watch to find out. 

Clip from Small Teen Turns Eighteen:

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The documentary also sees me become an official adult, as I celebrate my eighteenth birthday in style with a fancy dress party.  Turning eighteen has been a huge milestone for me; when I look back a year ago I’ve changed so much and I feel like a completely different person.  I have grown up inside and out and feel as though I am a stronger and better person.  My experience with my dad has taught me to be more wary of people and to not be too trusting.

I have definitely learnt a lot about myself from making these documentaries.  I’ve become wiser to the world, feel a lot more confident in myself and have more pride.  I actually feel as though I have aged four years in just one year!  I am a lot happier than I have ever been and I am ambitious for my future.

Small Teen Turns Eighteen is on Monday at 9pm

Free Speech: Should all drugs be legalised?

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James Emtage James Emtage | 14:55 UK time, Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Image of syringe   and surrounding drugs

A recent Global Drug Survey found that more Brits have tried cannabis than they have energy drinks, and with one in five young people admitting to taking a ‘mystery white powder’ without knowing what it is, we asked four young writers to answer this question:

Should all drugs be legalised?

Here’s what they had to say…

Blog contributor - Elliot Gonzalez

Elliot Gonzalez

In a word, NO.

Why do I say this? Well, because if we were to legalise drugs then it would send out the wrong message about them, especially to youngsters.

It seems too much of the focus around education in drugs is more to do with getting off of drugs rather than explaining the crime that goes with addiction or the damage they do to your body. We all know that smoking damages your lungs and that drinking damages your liver but what exactly certain drugs do to our body is not commonly known or more importantly taught at a young age.

Also, young smokers are statistically more likely to try marijuana as the next ‘illegal’ thing to do and I feel that by legalising certain drugs such as marijuana, then other harder illegal substances might become more desirable as the next illegal substance that youngsters want to experiment with.

Blog Contributor - Franklyn Addo

Franklyn Addo

Despite current legislation prohibiting drugs, drug abuse is a problem, ranging from recreational use to long lasting addictions and underpinning many crimes perpetrated. The question at the epicentre of drug discussions is whether they should be legalised or not. This question hosts many ethical implications and the policies implemented will have significant subsequent impact.

The ultimate factor of consideration is the medical implications of drugs. The legalisation of drugs with higher medical implications is not a good idea, as the initial boom would cause many deaths and is unethical. The legalisation of drugs with fewer medical implications, however, may be beneficial as it makes supply more controlled and would be instrumental in putting an end to illegal drug couriering.

Once such drugs are legalised, people can be educated on their medical implications and after an initial boom in use, people may be deterred from them as it becomes less socially desirable. An example of this is in the decline of cigarette smoking.

Blog contributor - Teju Adeleye

Teju Adeleye 

I believe that the time is right for discussing legalising drugs, yes it's controversial and distinctions will need to be drawn between different drugs.

If we think about the “producer nations” of the common drugs like cocaine, the brutal truth is horrific.

Headless corpses on the street, bodies swinging from bridges, children shot dead by lawless drug lords - not scenes from horror films but everyday life for people across Latin America.

The drugs trade is one of the most profitable in the world, but because it is illegal, violence is the only means to protect and secure its profit.  

It destroys so much of civilian life: it corrupts society, it destroys human rights, and it kills our environment.  Entire nations are at the mercy of drug cartels, and this needs to stop.

Legalising and regulating drugs is a radical idea, but it would bring stability to these nations, whilst stopping money being wasted on the drugs war we’ve already lost.  It would generate legitimate profit and focus on the health impact and not on criminality.

We have a global responsibility to stop these drug lords. People will never stop using drugs, so we need to legalise, educate, regulate and control.

Blog contributor - Priyanka Mogul

Priyanka Mogul

Different classes of drugs need to be dealt with differently. The UK has the highest rate of young people consuming cannabis. I believe that certain Class B and C drugs, such as cannabis, should be decriminalised.

By making less harmful drugs legal, the government is effectively tightening supervision and control of the consumption of these drugs. It will also make addicts less hesitant to get the help they need to recover, whereas at the moment, they live in fear of being arrested if they come forward. Young people will also be less hesitant to approach an adult if they are feeling bad effects after consuming a drug like cannabis.

Simply arresting these people will not solve the drug problem. Rather than spending money on locking them away in already overcrowded prisons, they could be spending money on rehabilitation services.


It’s a tough call. Where do you stand: should all drugs be legalised?

Hop on to our Facebook, tweet us your thoughts or leave your comments below and you could see your opinions being included in our next live TV show where we will be talking about drugs.

We’re coming from Bristol on May 16th at 8pm – make sure you’re watching, and if you want to be in the live studio audience then click here for more info.  

These four writers have contributed to publications such as The Guardian, The Ecologist, Time Out London and Live Magazine. If you would like to write a blog piece for Free Speech, e-mail us now with a little hello.

BBC Free Speech will be live from Bristol on Thursday 16th May at 8pm. 

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