Cuts push po­lice to change drug pol­icy

Users no longer tar­geted as re­sources are stretched

Sunday Sun - - Comment&analysis -

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.