Revealed: Almost 3,000 cannabis possession offenses in Sussex Brighton News

APPROXIMATELY one in seven people captured with cannabis in Sussex last year have been charged, figures show.

Activists say law enforcement dictating cannabis use is a “postcode lottery” and have called for the total decriminalization of drug possession.

Home Office data shows that out of 2,661 cannabis possession offenses closed by Sussex police last year, 365 resulted in a charge or subpoena.

This is a charge rate of 14%, although it excludes 295 other offenses for which no results have yet been assigned.

In England and Wales, 117,000 cannabis possession offenses recorded in 2020 were completed.

Of those, 17% ended in a charge – up from 21% in 2019.

Figures do not include Greater Manchester Police as they did not submit full data.

North Wales Police recorded the highest charge rate, at 34 percent, while Surrey Police charged only 7 percent of offenses.

Niamh Eastwood, executive director of the anti-drug charity Release, said young people were disproportionately criminalized for using drugs, limiting their education and work opportunities.

“It is right that most of those taken into possession are not charged and avoid the burden of a criminal record,” she added.

“That being said, the zip code lottery that exists in the way this offense is handled is why we need a national approach.”

She said the drug abuse law – which turns 50 this month – has failed to reduce drug use and called for the decriminalization of possession coupled with investment in treatment. .

The most common type of outcome recorded by Sussex Police over the past year was an informal out-of-court disposition, which accounted for 660 offenses.

These took the form of community resolutions, which could involve an apology and some form of reparation.

In 2019-2020, a new outcome was introduced to reflect when an offender is referred to a diversion program, such as a drug awareness course or treatment.

Sussex Police recorded the use of this type of scheme 74 times in the past year, while across the police force it has been used around 2,300 times.

“Police on the front lines recognize that criminalizing small-scale drug possession is costly and counterproductive,” said Martin Powell, head of partnerships at the Transform Drug Policy Foundation.

“We also know that enforcement of cannabis laws falls very disproportionately on people from black communities, leading to greater distrust of the police.

“This is why forces across the country are implementing programs to divert people from the criminal justice system to education and support.”

Mr. Powell added that some forces that use diversion programs may register them in other categories such as community resolutions.

A spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry said: “We have no intention of decriminalizing cannabis.

“The police have a range of powers to deal with drug offenses in a proportionate manner and in the public interest.”

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This notice was published: 2021-06-01 23:01:00

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