22 July 2015
Durham PCC Ron Hogg says move is an effort to cut costs, keep users out of criminal justice system and focus resources on organised crime
Indicating his support for the decriminalisation of drug use, Hogg also said he was prepared to meet the home secretary, Theresa May, to discuss the matter.
The move has been interpreted as a shift towards the effective decriminalisation of cannabis. However, Mike Penning, the policing minister, has already responded to the news by reaffirming that growing cannabis is illegal.
Hogg told the Guardian that his policy for Durham was about prioritisation. He insisted that his officers would still enforce the law if they got complaints from the public about cannabis users and growers.
“The focus of what we are trying to do is target those who produce drugs on a larger scale,” he said. “Our communities want us to focus on drug dealers in the streets. They don’t want dealers in the streets at the same time as their children are playing.
“It’s illegal to grow and use cannabis and we will still enforce the law. However, what we will try and do is engage with users and help them if that’s what they want.”
He said that continuing cuts to policing had made such prioritisation more important. “There’s a resource issue, we must also be clear about that, but we are doing it because it’s the right approach.”
The policy was first revealed in a meeting between Hogg and pro-cannabis activists from local chapters of the UK Cannabis Social Clubs in the first week of July. At the meeting Hogg confirmed rumours that Durham police were no longer actively working to detect small-scale cannabis growers and users, said John Holiday, a local activist.
Holiday – not his real name – said Hogg was clear that the policy was not intended as a free-for-all. He said: “It’s still illegal. If you were to light up in front of a policeman or go into a police station and tell them you’ve got a ten-bag you would still be arrested.
“The idea is discretion: don’t piss off your neighbours.”
The move follows a conference hosted by Hogg in Durham last November where police, drugs professionals and activists, including some from local cannabis clubs, debated the future of drugs policy. Following the summit, Hogg wrote a letter to the prime minister with a warning that current drug laws were failing.
“Policy on drug addiction should be moved to the Department of Health, in order for the focus to be on treating rather than punishing,” Hogg’s letter said.
Neil Woods, vice-chair of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (Leap) UK, hailed Hogg’s move, saying that although police officials prioritised their officers’ work all the time, it was “quite bold to word it in the way that he is doing”.
Woods, a former undercover drugs detective, agreed with suggestions that drug crime could get less attention from police as they are forced to reassess priorities as budgets are pared back in the name of austerity.
“If you consider that a taxpayer pays £400 towards fighting the war on drugs in this country, the financial pressures are going to take us there,” he said.
Woods added: “It’s an important, small, incremental step in the right direction. I think it’s necessary and I’m pleased that they are brave enough to very publicly make this step.
“I applaud their move. No one should ever be criminalised for drug possession.”
Comment from Prague Pot->http://praguepot.com/2015/07/22/england-has-legalized-cannabis/]:
England has legalized cannabis
As the great Bill Shakespeare would say, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Yesterday came the announcement that police wouldn’t enforce the prohibition of cannabis in the north of England any more. So when the police say you can grow and possess small amounts of the plant, guess what, that means it is legal. This is the bear minimum our tax funded officials could do. Thanks to the internet, the public are a different animal than they were even ten years ago. We have access to the same information as the police and authorities. Reefer madness propaganda has been disproven time and again and the public are now wondering what our elected officials are up to?
Have they forgotten that they work for the public? Have they forgotten that the money we pay in taxes should be spent as wisely as possible. Colorado has had no negative effects after legalizing cannabis. The crime rate is down and public satisfaction is up. Our taxes are being wasted by the system. Prohibition has never worked and more importantly, cannabis is healthy for you. There is now a need for the cannabis community to come together. The system has enjoyed crushing individuals that call for legalization but as the police are no longer enforcing the caveman laws on prohibition, it is time for the 40 million European cannabis consumers to stand up and call time on the wasteful war on cannabis. We don’t have the money to pay for America’s prohibition and society can’t afford to hand cannabis revenue to hardened criminals. Set up you own cannabis social club, register it with Encod.org and lets put an end to the foolish question of cannabis legalization.Republish