He led Peters through several archways and across a quadrangle where students turned hurriedly away and stubbed out cigarettes.
“Can you smell that, sir?” Peters caught his arm. “Those lads were smoking cannabis.”
“I do recognise the scent, sergeant, but we're not the drugs squad and we're here on a rather more urgent matter.”
“Nevertheless, sir, we have a duty to uphold the law.”
White frowned at him. “It's a bit of puff. If they were shooting up, yes, I'd intervene but a bit of resin never hurt anybody.”
Peters stopped, his hold on the inspector's arm forcing him to stop as well. He stared at the fire door he boys had gone through. “I beg to differ, sir. It might be just a bit of puff to you but my sister wouldn't see it that way. Her lad was arrested last month for possession of 'a bit of puff' and it all but tore them apart.”
“Your sister's lad?” White frowned. “Is this the same nephew who went to Glastonbury without telling anyone?”
“Mikey, sir, yes. He lost his place at Cambridge because of it.”
“Why? What was he doing at Cambridge? Law?”
“No sir. He was a youth worker with underprivileged kids.”
“I see. You can't look after kids with a criminal record. That still doesn't mean we should arrest every student who has a smoke. Wouldn't we just be subjecting their families to the same trauma as your sister's?”
“I suppose so. It's just that if we clamp down on it now they might not get so involved with it later.”
“The short, sharp shock approach? Did that ever work?” He started walking again.
“I think so.” Peters shook his head and followed. “I pinched a packet of polos when I was about eight. The shopkeeper caught me and called a policeman. That was the end of my life of crime right then and there.”