Leafie UK reports
In a new blueprint drawn up by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and College of Policing, people caught in possession of substances such as cocaine, cannabis and MDMA will not be prosecuted, but instead offered alternative pathways including education and treatment programs.
The move aims to take pressure away from police officers for an offence that is often viewed by members of the public and even those who work in the police force and in the criminal justice system as a public health issue rather than a criminal matter.
Those caught by police in possession of personal amounts of illegal substances for the first time would not have to go through the court system and no criminal record would be recorded. However, if the person is caught again after they have been to education or treatment, they may be liable to prosecution.
Of the 43 police forces in the UK, 14 already run similar diversionary schemes for people caught with drugs, including Durham, West Midlands and Somerset.
Somerset’s Drug Education Programme has been running since April 2015 and offers those caught in possession of drugs a place on a 3.5-hour drug education workshop run by a local drug service. Once the person caught with drugs successfully completes the course they will receive a letter which confirms that the offence that they would have been charged with has been dropped.
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