Heroin, cocaine and cannabis users will be EXEMPT from prosecution for repeated offences under new police scheme
- David Jamieson is investing £60,000 in a scheme to tackle drug re-offending
- The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner has authorised the scheme
- Low level drug offenders will be offered education rather than criminal sanction
- Drugs crimes in the West Midlands currently cost the taxpayer £1.4 billion a year
Criminals caught in possession of small amounts of heroin, cocaine or cannabis will escape prosecution as long as they are involved in a treatment programme.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson is backing the £60,000 DIVERT scheme which is intended to ‘help break the cycle of crime relating to drug offending’.
According to figures released by the PCC, drug related crime currently costs the West Midlands more than £1.4 billion each year.
West Midlands Police Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, pictured, is funding a £60,000 project to help break the chain of drug offenders committing new crimes by sending them for education courses rather than jail
The scheme will only apply to low level drug offenders who were caught in possession for their own personal use. Those arrested on suspicion for possession with intent to supply will still face prosecution
It is recognised that a person put through the criminal justice system costs the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds during their life time.
Under the scheme, some 1,500 people will be helped during the 12-month pilot project.
Police officers will be able to steer qualifying offenders, who would ordinarily be charged with low-level drugs offences, to drug outreach or education courses.
According to a spokesperson for the West Midlands PCC office: ‘Evidence suggests that short term prison sentences often lead to the offender committing more crime as opposed to engagement with a diversionary scheme.
‘We know that drug habits are often exacerbated in prison and many people in prison first get onto drugs whilst serving a custodial sentence. 1 in 5 heroin users, for example, first use the drug whilst in prison.’
A similar scheme operated by Thames Valley Police found that 80 per cent of offenders who engaged with the education and rehabilitation efforts did not reoffend during the next 12 months.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, who has led the programme said: ‘If we are going to break the cycle of drug related crime, we need to look at new ways to tackle the root cause.
‘This new scheme is tried and tested in other parts of the country and has done an excellent job in saving the taxpayer money and stopped individuals become drawn into a life of offending.
‘Throughout this 12 month pilot we will continue to monitor the progress of the scheme and how well it is working to help people. We know that successful diversions away from the criminal justice system is always better and cheaper than putting people into prison or even fines which often go unpaid.’
Only people who would have been prosecuted for possession rather than possession with intent to supply will be eligible for the scheme.
Superintendent Jane Bailey of West Midlands Police said: ‘This is a fantastic scheme which will be able to offer help and support to those in need and in some cases, may help save lives.
‘Drug users often find themselves on a downward spiral due to their addictions and they often commit crime to fund their habit.
‘However, they are also often some of the most vulnerable within our communities, so this project will help them seek help to fight their addictions and divert them away from a life of crime.
‘The scheme also offers support to young people, who are involved in drug taking. It will assist by offering early intervention and support to help them stay in education and reach their potential.
‘While those who are more heavily involved in crime, or are dealing drugs, will be offered support via our drug referral agencies, we will continue to deal with them properly for criminal matters.
‘The wide range of support which will be on offer as part of this scheme will enable people to get the help they need. Ultimately ending the cycle of drug addiction and crime for those who chose to engage.’
Source: Read Full Article