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"Just a spliff, man"

That's what a litigant said to the Met when in the course of investigating a burglary they went to the wrong house and the unfortunate Mr Mondelly invited them in, only for them to find his gear and then nick him.

Not enormously interesting on the face of things, but a law report in which this vignette of London life features does serve to clarify the application of the law somewhat.

Some details:

"A police officer, finding a person in possession of cannabis, who is satisfied that the drug is intended for that person's own use should not arrest the offender unless aggravating factors apply. The drug must be seized but no further action should be taken in respect of the offence, other than administrative procedures"

...

"This policy is not intended to interfere with the discretion of a police officer, but to provide direction and focus towards governmental and policing priorities. It formalises practices identified in Lambeth, where "informal disposal of cannabis" took place. This activity had implications for the integrity of the officer and offender. This practice was recognised by academic research. This policy provides a framework to allow seizure of cannabis without arrest, protecting the officer and offender, thereby improving morale and public confidence. This approach to cannabis will also remove a source of friction between police and young people. It will reduce the amount of time devoted to policing the possession of a drug which is undoubtedly harmful to individual health, but does not cause damage or danger to health or to the community on the scale of crack cocaine, cocaine, or heroin."


It is not widely recognised among the public that the police have both individual and force discretion in arrest policy, and the Met's approach is *very* different to that in other parts of the country. In Cumbria (I think), they will throw the book at you if are caught with a spliff. The libertarian arguments to one side, the London approach strikes me as eminently sensible - I do not think that many Londoners would think chasing after weed smokers was an especailly good use of police time and money. As a parallel, any number of my fellow Croydonites could face being nicked for being 'drunk and incapable' of a Saturday night, just like Stephen Twigg was last year.
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Blogger Peter Hitchens said... 11:07 am

The drug must be seized but no further action should be taken in respect of the offence,
Then the weed shared out amongst that watch and smoked in the privacy of the officers own homes.  



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