national pottery Cops cave on cannabis as we reveal where in the UK they turn a blind eye to use of dangerous drug
Shocking findings show how widely lax dope rules vary across the UK
by TOM WELLS and Jacob Dirnhuber
22nd August 2016
JUST one in four offenders caught with cannabis are charged, a Sun investigation can reveal.
It shows police attitudes vary widely across the UK — with addiction charities saying some forces turn a blind eye to cannabis use.
Caught by the buzz … but more and more Brits are dodging arrest as cops increasingly turn a blind eye to cannabis
Some offenders are getting off scot free because of a lax police attitude to drug laws.
While a few forces crack down most have a “softly-softly” approach — and a few virtually turn a blind eye.
In Hampshire, 65 per cent of those caught with cannabis end up with a charge or summons. But in Cambridgeshire it falls to 14 per cent and Hertfordshire, Staffordshire and Devon and Cornwall it is 16 per cent.
graphic cannabis map
Joint enterprise … while a few forces crack down most have a “softly-softly” approach
Durham Police was among forces that refused to give The Sun any figures. But Chief Constable Mike Barton has said his officers will no longer target those who grow cannabis for personal use.
The casual attitude means that nationwide just one in four offenders caught with cannabis end up facing charges. More than 40 per cent escape with “cannabis warnings” despite the class B drug’s mental health risk.
Law of averages … nationwide, just one in four offenders caught with cannabis end up facing charges
Slap on the wrist … many Brits escape with “cannabis warnings” despite the class B drug’s mental health risk
The warnings are less serious than a caution and do not give a criminal record. They rarely show up on “enhanced” staff vetting checks carried out by schools.
Those supplying cannabis face stiffer penalties.
Kathy Gyngell, of the Centre for Policy Studies, said: “These figures show the police have given up on cannabis. It represents a total failure to protect the interests of young people. The correct sanction at the right age might just save them from a dangerous drug.”
Drugs expert Kathy Gyngell says the approach to cannabis, “represents a total failure to protect the interests of young people”
The Sun looked at all cases of cannabis possession formally recorded in the past five years and how they were dealt with.
A total of 31 out of 43 England and Wales forces responded to our freedom of information requests.
Those responses showed 471,202 cases of cannabis possession between 2011 and 2015.
Only 126,789 of those, 27 per cent, were charged. But 193,260 — 41 per cent — got warnings instead.
Police, camera, inaction … Durham Chief Constable Mike Barton has said his officers will no longer target those who grow cannabis for personal use
A further 22 per cent walked away with either police cautions or a fixed penalty notice.
It means 63 per cent of offenders walked away with a slap on the wrist.
What forces say
AVON & SOMERSET:“We do not proactively seek out people who use cannabis.”
BEDFORDSHIRE: “Treated on case by case basis.”
CLEVELAND: “Depends on previous offending.”
DEVON & CORNWALL: “An arrest will be considered when aggravating factors are also present.”
DORSET: “We do not place disproportionate emphasis on drug enforcement.”
ESSEX: “Proportionate approach. Warnings for possession.”
GWENT: “We look at each case individually and take appropriate action.”
HUMBERSIDE: “Prosecute if deemed appropriate.”
NORFOLK: “Prosecution if appropriate.”
NORTHUMBRIA: “Continue to uphold the law.”
NOTTINGHAM: “Cannabis warning should be issued.”
SOUTH YORKS: “Still an arrestable offence.”
STAFFORDSHIRE: “Action against people who produce, cultivate and sell the Class B drug in cannabis factories or smoke in front of schools and youngsters.”
SUFFOLK: “Depends on the circumstances.”
SURREY: “Proactive operations to tackle drugs.”
WEST MIDLANDS: “We still would take action.”
WEST YORKS: “Continue to enforce current legislation appropriately.”
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