Pubdate: Thu, 19 Sep 2003
Source: Worthing Today (UK)
Copyright: 2003 Johnston Press New Media
Author: Harriet Shelley


POLICE will continue their "positive action" against cannabis in Worthing, 
despite new guidelines which appear to take the heat off users.

The Association of Chief Police Officers suggested last week the majority 
of people found in possession of small amounts of the drug should be let 
off with a verbal warning instead of being arrested.

But senior officers in Worthing said they remained committed to targeting 
the town's cannabis cafes, its customers and management and would continue 
their high profile, high cost operations.

Inspector Allan Lowe told the Herald: "Our stance towards cannabis cafes 

"The possession of cannabis remains illegal.

"We can reassure the community that we will continue positive action 
against the cannabis cafes' management and customers, with the aim of 
closing the cafes down."

The guidelines say police can use their discretion to make arrests if: the 
drug is consumed in public, the person is a repeat user, the possession is 
deemed to create p[ublic order problems, cause a "locally identified 
policing problem" or is found around young people in such places as schools 
or youth clubs.

Inspector Lowe added: "Our stance is in line with the new cannabis 
enforcement guidelines which emphasise action being taken where 
circumstances are causing a locally identified policing problem."

The reclassification of cannabis from a Class B to a Class C drug is 
intended to free up time and resources so police can concentrate on Class A 

Andy Hayman, Chief Constable of Norfolk Police, said last week: "In 
practice, this means that in the majority of cases officers will issue a 
warning and confiscate the drug.

"Police officers will be expected to use their discretion.

"That said, despite reclassification, it remains illegal to possess cannabis."

Earlier this year, Worthing's district commander, chief inspector Russ 
Whitfield announced a zero tolerance approach to cannabis cafes.

As a result of Operation Harrow, one cafe was closed down and one 
voluntarily shut up shop after a number of raids.

At one of the premises more than UKP 10,000 in case was seized.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom