Neil Woods spent fourteen years (1993-2007) infiltrating drug gangs as an undercover policeman – befriending and gaining the trust of some of the most violent, unpredictable criminals in Britain. With the insight that can only come from having fought on its front lines, Neil came to see the true futility of the War on Drugs – that it demonises those who need help, and only empowers the very worst elements in society. Neil is now a board member of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), a pro-legalisation advocacy group formed exclusively of ex-law enforcement officials, and he also starred on Channel 4’s Drugs Live.
Neil’s memoir, Good Cop, Bad War: My Double Life Undercover with the Drug Gangs, co-written with JS Rafaeli, was published by Ebury (Random House) in 2016.
Neil appeared in BBC 3’s Drugs Map of Britain, where he discussed his time undercover and how it informed his current approach to drug legislation. Various publications, including the Guardian, The Mirror and Huffington Post have also featured his work.
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‘The logic of the drugs war only leads one way: the police get smarter, so the criminals get nastier. Things can only ever go from bad to worse, from savagery to savagery…’
Neil Woods was the first and best of his kind – an undercover cop whose brief was to infiltrate Britain’s most dangerous drug gangs, befriending the foot soldiers before taking on their gangster bosses.
Starting out in the early 90s and making the rules up as he went, Neil was at the forefront of police surveillance. He quickly earned a name as the most successful operative of his time and his expertise was called upon by drugs squads around the country to tackle an ever growing problem.
But after years on the streets, spending time with the vulnerable users at the bottom of the chain, Neil began to question the seemingly futile war he was risking both his life and sanity for. What if the real enemy wasn’t who he thought?
Good Cop, Bad War is an intense account of the true effects of the War on drugs and a gripping insight into the high pressure world of British undercover policing.