The Mayor of London has announced a pilot scheme that would see 18-24-year-olds caught with small amounts of cannabis offered counselling and support instead of being arrested. The pilot scheme would take place across 3 of London’s 32 boroughs.
Both the Prime Minister and Keir Starmer have criticised the scheme.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister said:
“We have absolutely no intention of decriminalising dangerous and harmful substances for recreational use. Decriminalisation would leave organised criminals in control, while risking an increase in drug use, which drives crime and violence which blights our streets.”
Keir Starmer stated:
“I’m not in favour of us changing the law or decriminalisation. I’m very clear about that.”
Regarding the scheme, a spokesperson for the Mayor of London said:
“This limited trial, which is still in development and has yet to be approved by City Hall, would involve three of London’s 32 boroughs and would only apply to 18-24 year olds found in possession of a small amount of cannabis. It would not apply to any other drug.”
“The idea of the scheme, which is already used by other police forces across the country, would be to divert young people who are found with a small amount of cannabis away from the criminal justice system and instead provide help and support. This has been shown to reduce reoffending.”
“Reducing crime is the Mayor’s top priority and he will continue to explore and implement the most effective solutions to help to divert young people away from drug use and crime for good.”
Sadiq Khan has made illegal drug use a focus of his second term as London mayor, and commissioned a review into the feasibility of decriminalising cannabis.
The announcement of the pilot scheme comes less than a month after the government announced its new £780 million drugs strategy, with a new emphasis on support and recovery for drug users.