Police Federation

Honest debate needed on future of drugs legislation

Mon, 20 Jan 2020

Simon Kempton, Federation drugs lead

Simon Kempton, Federation drugs lead

As forces increasingly continue to move away from hauling people in possession of cannabis through the criminal justice system, the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) renews call for a fresh debate on prohibition of the class B drug.

Statistics obtained by the Telegraph reveal two-thirds of users caught with cannabis are being handed community resolutions – whilst the overall number charged for possessing cannabis has fallen by 16% over the last three years.

With outdated prohibition laws failing 100 years on since they came into force, politicians need to have a rethink, says PFEW Drugs Lead Simon Kempton, who also makes it clear community resolutions should not be seen as police “going soft” on criminals.

He said: “Savage cuts to the service over the past decade mean forces have had to make some tough operational decisions about which crimes to prioritise – and in many force areas people in possession of cannabis is not a priority.

“Community Resolutions are one of a range of criminal justice outcomes available and should not be seen as ‘soft justice’. And their use should be appropriate to the circumstances. Often when used in connection with cannabis possession they provide a proportionate and a sensible option which help eases the pressure on an already over-whelmed criminal justice system.”

Numerous police and crime commissioner and MPs have shown support for a new approach on tackling cannabis use in a bid to break the cycle of crime, including West Midlands PCC David Jamieson, Avon and Somerset PCC Sue Mountstevens and former Durham PCC Ron Hogg.

Last year Labour MP David Lammy, alongside Conservative Jonathan Djanogly and Liberal Democrat Sir Norman Lamb ventured out fact-finding trip to Canada to see how legalisation has worked over there as it became the first G7 country to allow recreational use of the drug in 2018.

Mr Kempton concluded: “But there are bigger issues which must be considered here about how we as a society deal with the issue of illegal drugs.

“We are not calling for their legalisation or de-criminalisation, but clearly prohibition has failed. We now need an open, honest, transparent debate about how we tackle this issue taking evidence from around the world.”

 

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