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.
His follow-up, A Very British War will be published by Ebury in 2018.
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.
An observation van is running surveillance on a high-level Bradford gangster. Suddenly the van is surrounded by men in balaclavas and tied shut. Out comes the can of petrol. It is set alight and the two cops inside barely escape with their lives. This incident is never reported. The gangsters clearly have informants inside the police and alerting the public would undermine the force. Everyone shrugs it off – with so much money in the drugs game, corruption is part and parcel of the whole deal
From the bestselling author of Good Cop Bad War, Neil Woods, comes the first inside history of Britain’s War on Drugs told by those who were there.
Calling upon the gripping first-hand accounts from those on both sides of the battle – the cops and the gangsters – as well as Neil Wood’s experiences as an undercover drugs detective, Drug Wars will build a complex, authentic and terrifying picture of the reality of the drug war in Britain.
Beginning with the Misuse of Drugs Act in 1971, we watch decades of violence, racial tension, organised crime and a monumental increase in addiction unfold. We see the birth of rave music and dance culture, and yet even more tabloid hysteria. And throughout, we look at the huge numbers of civilians that have fallen victim to Britain’s war on drugs.
GOOD COP, BAD WAR — Buy it here
‘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.
“This is the best book ever written about the British war on drugs.” Johann Hari
“Gripping exposé of the disastrous reality of the drug war” Guardian
PUBLICATION DATE: 18 August 2016