28 July 2015
More police forces could soon be turning a blind eye to people who grow cannabis for their own use.
Derbyshire and Dorset Police and Crime Commissioners have both revealed they do not see smalltime cannabis use as a ‘priority’ for officers on the street.
Their comments come after Durham’s PCC told last week how people who grow the drug for their own use were unlikely to end up in court.
Following on form the comments, Alan Charles, Derbyshire PCC, said tightened purse strings had forced the constabulary to reassess its targets.
He said: “Our top priority must be those people at risk [of abuse or violence],” he said.
“When we are moving resources into that it does mean that we can’t keep policing every single issue as we have done in the past. If people are using cannabis discreetly in their own homes, in private, I would not expect the chief to make that a priority.”
Although stressing that the force would always target organised gangs, he added: “If you are talking about people growing a couple of cannabis plants at home on the window sill, I would not expect Derbyshire police to prioritise that.”
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill agreed, claiming there was a “sea change” in the policing of drugs and pointed to America where many states were decriminalising cannabis.
He said: “There is a need for a new debate in the UK. Nationally, at a time when the Government are expanding the NCA portfolio to include CSA and human slavery as well as organised crime and drugs, it is clear drug enforcement will change in nature.
“Locally, with shrinking police numbers and higher demand, I am not convinced that chasing a solitary cannabis plant is an efficient or effective way of policing.
“Ultimately the decision is operational and that of my Chief Constable, but I think it’s time we examined the policing of cannabis. Let’s have an informed debate.”
The statements come after Durham’s PCC, Ron Hogg, police and crime commissioner for Durham, suggested people would be free to grow small amounts of the illegal Class B drug.
“We are not prioritising people who have a small number of cannabis plants for their own use,” he said.
“The most likely way of dealing with them would be with a caution and taking plants away and disposing of them.
“It is unlikely a case like that would be brought before a court.”
Mr Hogg was later forced to clarify his comments after they caused some outrage, and said he was committed to tackling criminal gangs but stressed that sending police officers out looking for people smoking drugs was not a priority.
A third PCC, Kevin Hurley of Surrey, had previously been quoted as saying cannabis was “way down the list” of priorities, but denied he was in agreement with any of his counterparts.
He said: “Cannabis is known to cause psychosis and ruin lives. One of the “Peoples Priorities” on which I was elected was a commitment to prevent drug dealing to children and young people.
“That still holds true but at the same time in the light of budget cuts I must make sure that we prioritise prompt response to terrorism and violent crime.
“However it is quite wrong to imply that I am in agreement with the PCC for Durham, I simply have better things to do than join in a pointless debate on a marginal issue.”Republish