UK police chiefs are working to decriminalize first drug offenses

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the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the College of Policingwhich brings together British police chiefs, are currently drawing up a plan to decriminalize the possession of drugs, including cannabis and cocaine.

14 of the UK’s 43 police forces have already adopted policies similar to the drug decriminalization proposal put forward by the country’s chief constables. But the plan is at odds with the country’s Conservative Party government, which has launched proposals to toughen penalties for illegal drugs including cannabis.

If the plan is adopted by the UK government, the use and possession of small amounts of recreational drugs would be treated as a public health concern for first-time offenders, rather than a criminal offense punishable by prosecution and jail or prison time. other penalties.

People caught in possession of illegal drugs would be offered the opportunity to attend drug education or treatment programs, rather than being prosecuted. The police would take no further action against those who agree to take the program, giving them a chance to avoid a criminal record. People who do not complete the program or who are subsequently caught in possession of illegal drugs would still be subject to criminal prosecution.

Jason Harwin, a former NPCC official and former Deputy Chief of Police, works with the College of Policing on the new strategy of partial decriminalization.

“We shouldn’t criminalize someone for possession of drugs,” he told the Telegram. “It should be a referral to other services to give them a chance to change their behavior.”

In October, UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman revealed that she was considering strengthening the classification of cannabis under national drug law, as she fears cannabis is a drug. -bridge [ndlr : théorie débunkée dans les années 70] and does not lead to serious health problems.

Braverman opposes the decriminalization of cannabis, saying cannabis policy reform efforts send a ‘cultural’ symbol that cannabis use is acceptable, according to a report by the Times. The Home Secretary is also concerned about evidence that cannabis use can lead to serious physical health problems, including cancer and birth defects, and mental health problems, including psychosis.

The stricter Class A drug designation for cannabis would make penalties for cannabis-related offenses tougher, including prison terms of up to seven years for possession and sentences of up to life in prison for cannabis producers and suppliers.

“We need to scare people,” she reportedly said, to justify tougher penalties to deter cannabis use and trafficking.

In July, Priti Patel, then Home Secretary, announced she was proposing new penalties for users of cannabis and other drugs, including the confiscation of driving licenses and passports, as part of of a new three-strike policy for illicit drug use.

“Drugs are a scourge for all of society. They devastate lives and tear communities apart,” Mr Patel said in a government statement. “Drug abuse endangers lives, fuels serious and violent crime and crime, and also results in the grotesque exploitation of vulnerable young people. »

Under the proposal, which was detailed in a white paper drafted by the Home Office, those caught in possession of illegal recreational drugs would face fines and a compulsory drug internship. They could also be denied access to nightclubs and other places of entertainment.

“That is why the government is committed to tackling both the supply and the demand for drugs, as set out in the ten-year drug strategy,” said a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health. inside in a statement to the press. “Our white paper on new, tougher penalties for drug possession presented proposals to tackle demand and we welcomed views on this. We will publish our response in due course. »

However, in an open letter to the government released last Sunday, 500 public health and drug enforcement organizations and experts expressed “serious concerns” about the government’s plans which they said would penalize youth and vulnerable people and would divert valuable police resources from tackling the root of the problem.

Professor David Strain, Chairman of the Scientific Council of the British Medical Associationsaid the government’s plans appeared to “double down on a failed model by promoting ever-tougher penalties that perpetuate the stigma and shame that already prevent individuals from seeking help and ultimately discourage drug users to seek the health services they need”.

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