HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Drug Move Could Save Police Millions
Pubdate: Wed, 13 Mar 2002
Source: Daily Telegraph (UK)
Copyright: 2002 Telegraph Group Limited
Contact:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/114
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/pot.htm (Cannabis)

DRUG MOVE COULD SAVE POLICE MILLIONS

DAVID BLUNKETT'S plan to downgrade cannabis to the same category as 
tranquillisers such as valium could save police at least UKP38 million a 
year, it was claimed today.

The independent report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation also says the move 
could also vastly improve police officers' relations with the public.

The study reveals huge variations across the country in the way offenders 
are dealt with for possession of cannabis. Describing the chaotic way 
police currently deal with the drug, the authors said some officers 
"specialise" in arresting marijuana users, while others have "effectively 
decriminalised cannabis in their everyday working practices".

The report concluded: "The chances of being arrested depend on the force 
areas where an offence is discovered and on the experience and attitudes of 
individual officers."

Co-author Professor Mike Hough said the Lambeth experiment - in which 
Metropolitan Police officers have dealt with cannabis users by confiscating 
the drug and giving an informal warning - should be extended across Britain.

"It would make sense to reclassify cannabis to Class C," he said. "There 
would be significant gains all round."

The report - entitled Times They Are A-Changing, after Bob Dylan's 1964 
protest movement anthem - dismissed the argument that arresting someone for 
cannabis offences can often lead to officers discovering more serious crimes.

Analysis of 30,000 custody records found just 857 where cannabis had been 
the initial offence, and only 11 of these involved the serious crimes of 
burglary.

The financial savings which could be made by changing the law on cannabis 
could range from UKP350 million a year - which was "likely to be an 
over-estimate" - to UKP38 million, the report said.
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