Police are ‘weak on cannabis despite stink on the street’
POLICE enforcement on cannabis has been ‘pathetically weak’ for years despite the ‘ stink’ of the drug on the streets, a police leader said yesterday.
Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall, accused forces of ignoring the threat posed by the class B drug.
She said officers are too fixated on reducing deaths from class A drugs such as heroin. ‘Policing and enforcement of drugs and drug dealing in this country has been pathetically weak on Class B and Class C drugs for years,’ she said.
‘The focus has not been on tackling that absolute stink on our streets across the country... for decades. There has been a move away from that and an obsession with the public health approach to drugs. Sometimes you need an enforcement approach.’ At a National Police Chiefs’ Council conference in Westminster, the Tory PCC called for tougher action nationally by police.
Police risk assessments traditionally look at drug deaths, which means there is a focus on heroin as causing the highest harm, even though more people are in treatment centres for cannabis use than other drugs.
She said: ‘That is alarming. And the fact is that cannabis gets ignored in the threat assessments that police do, and that’s why we’re trying to influence how officers look at this as a problem. There’s been too much conversation nationally about
‘Crackdown on the farms’
the legalisation of cannabis so a lot of people think it has become legal already.’
Ms Hernandez is pushing for the classification of cannabis to be reviewed. Chief Constable Trevor Rodenhurst defended force action on drugs. A crackdown on cannabis farms across England and Wales in July saw 1,000 illegal growing sites raided and more than 1,000 people arrested.
Police argue that crime gangs involved in cannabis production are also responsible for other crimes including Class A drug smuggling, modern slavery, violence and exploitation.