Having recently read that parts of Manchester were a ‘no-go’ area and hearing – with some scepticism – a local friend adding that the same is true of parts of Birmingham, after dark at least, today’s press reports about yesterday’s annual report of Professor Hamid Ghodse, president of the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) appeared to confirm these assertions.

Noting the indisputable facts that that Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester were experiencing ‘a vicious cycle of social exclusion and drugs problems and fractured communities’, he said that “in many societies around the world, whether developed or developing, there are communities within the societies which develop which become no-go areas . . . Drug traffickers, organised crime, drug users, they take over. They will get the sort of governance of those areas.”

Professor Ghodse listed examples in America and Britain: Brazil, Mexico, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, where the police had lost control of parts of these cities, and drugs gangs had taken over.

Those disagreeing point out that numbers in the Americas were far higher than in Britain.

His recommendations

Professor Ghodse called for such communities to be offered drug abuse prevention programmes, treatment and rehabilitation services, and the same levels of educational, employment and recreational opportunities as in the wider society.

He said: ‘Youth of these communities must have similar chances to those in the wide society and have a right to be protected from drug abuse and drug dependence.

‘It is crucial that the needs of communities experiencing social disintegration are urgently tackled before the tipping point is reached, beyond which effective action becomes impossible.

‘The consequences of failure are too high for society and should be avoided at all cost.’