Cuts push police to change drug policy
Users no longer targeted as resources are stretched
Police are no longer targeting drug users, in part due to funding cuts POLICE seem to be giving up on the war on drugs.
They’re still targeting drug dealers. But they no longer go out of their way to arrest ordinary drug users.
Some people will see this as progress. There’s a view that prosecuting people simply for possession of drugs does more harm than good.
But the change in approach is only partly by choice.
Police also say they’ve been forced to leave drug users alone because they simply don’t have the resources to go after them.
Official Home Office figures show police forces in the North East are making far fewer drugs seizures than they used to.
In the 2009-10 financial year, they carried out 3,483 drugs seizures.
By the 2017-18 financial year, this number had fallen to 2,840. In other words, it fell by about a fifth.
It’s a fact that police forces have experienced big cuts in funding from central government, and have been forced to take some difficult decisions, including cutting staff numbers.
This has left them unable to do as much as they used to – and the public has noticed, according to MPs.
An inquiry from the Commons Public Accounts Commit- tee, which includes MPs from all parties, said public confidence in the police had been “severely dented”.
The MPs said: “Forces are struggling to deliver an effective service: it is taking longer for forces to charge offences; forces are making fewer arrests; they are doing less neighbourhood policing, and public satisfaction is declining.”
In this case, however, some politicians may feel it’s better for the police to do a bit less.
A number of MPs believe prohibiting drugs hasn’t worked.
They include Labour backbencher Grahame Morris, Labour MP for Easington in County Durham.
And they also include Conservatives such as backbencher Daniel Poulter, who told the Commons: “We should help people with drug dependency to access the appropriate health and care support they may need, and we must think seriously about whether the current prohibition on drugs is the right way forward.”
Of the 2,840 drugs seizures carried out by North East forces in the most recent year, 1,620 involved cannabis.
There were 373 seizures involving cocaine, 40 involving crack (a derivative of cocaine) and 148 involving heroin.