Police Officers across the UK have been given the go-ahead to stop locking up cannabis users they will now be able to use a softer approach.
It is now up to individual Chief Constables to decide if they want their police officers to arrest, caution, warn or let people walk free who are caught with the drug.
The news was announced by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) announced the new approach, hoping that by encouraging cannabis users to seek treatment instead of prosecuting them, it could help lower re-offending rates.
Cleveland Police Assistant Chief Constable has already stated that there is very strong evidence to suggest this approach will work, Meaning those within Teesside could face not being arrested if they are found with the drug he said
“There is strong evidence to suggest that recommending minor offenders for early intervention treatment instead of pursuing convictions can prevent re-offending and result in the best outcome for both the user and the criminal justice system.
It is a matter for chief constables, in liaison with their police and crime commissioners, to determine operational priorities.”
Harwin made it clear that users would not be pressured by the police to seek treatment, with the main aim is for people to take up the offer of the treatment which could help them.
Cannabis is still classified within the UK as a Class B drug, meaning if you are caught in possession of it can lead to a prison sentence of up to five years, and an unlimited fine.
But that could change depending on how your Chief Constable believes the issue should be handled.
You’ll still face an unlimited fine and a prison sentence of up to 14 years if you are dealing with the drug or growing it.
Harwin added that despite the softer approach large scale drug dealers will still be pursued by chief constables
There are a range of options for dealing with those found in possession of cannabis or who cultivate the plant that are proportionate to individual circumstances – these include out-of-court disposals and cannabis warnings, as well as prosecution.
In response to the announcement, the Home Office emphasised police chiefs are still expected to enforce the law, with possession of cannabis continuing to be a criminal offence.