‘Three spliffs and you’re out’ proposal
By The Guardian – Sept 18 2002
Copyright: The Guardian
Cannabis users caught by the police more than twice in a 12 month period will be arrested rather than cautioned under “three spliffs and you’re out” guidelines being considered by chief officers, it emerged yesterday.
Instead of repeatedly issuing formal warnings to people caught with small amounts of the drug, officers may be given the discretion to arrest and charge them.
People caught once or twice with cannabis for personal use will be allowed to hand over the drug and go on their way after a formal warning. However, a third offence in the space of one year would mean arrest and more serious charges under the guidelines, which would be introduced by July next year.
Ignoring cautions would be regarded as an one of the “aggravating factors” that would give police the option of treating the offence more seriously.
The decision by the home secretary, David Blunkett, to reclassify cannabis from class B to class C next year will strip police of the automatic power of arrest for simple possession of the drug.
But Mr Blunkett has said he will introduce legislation that will allow police to continue to exercise the power in certain limited circumstances. Among such provisions are the cannabis user’s being under the age of 17, or the drug being smoked near a school.
Home Office minister Bob Ainsworth is expected to reiterate many of these pledges and highlight the vital role of police at the Association of Chief Police Officers conference today.
Andy Hayman, a deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police, chairman of Acpo’s drugs committee, is currently drawing up guidelines for officers to explain when the “aggravating factors” apply.