Kent PCC writes to the Government, supporting tougher action on drug use.
The Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Scott, has written to the Home Secretary Suella Braverman supporting the government’s White Paper called ‘Swift, Certain, Tough: New Consequences for Drug Possession’. *
Matthew Scott says he supports tougher action and the proposed ‘three tier approach’ for drug use. This would see a first-time offender given a fixed penalty fine or a requirement to attend, and pay for, a drugs awareness course; a second-time offender would be given a formal caution, perhaps be required to attend a period of mandatory drug testing and attend a drugs awareness course; and finally a third time offender would be charged through the civil court and potentially be tagged, given an exclusion order or even have their passport or driver’s licence confiscated. Those who continue to use drugs would suffer harsher consequences through the criminal courts.
In his detailed letter Matthew Scott says,
“I support this approach and write with local information that backs up the case for action. The Government’s overall objective is to make a generational shift in demand for drugs. The intention is to reduce drug usage to a thirty year low, which would, as the paper argues, reduce crime and save lives. Drug crime causes real harm. There are victims of violence and acquisitive crime, and persistent antisocial behaviour in our local neighbourhoods. There is a public appetite in Kent for action on drugs offences. It was one of the top ten most important issues for local residents along with serious violence and gangs in my Annual Policing Survey last year.”
He adds that Kent Police already achieves good results, but stresses a comprehensive drugs policy much be sufficiently-funded.
“In the financial year 2021/22, Kent Police achieved a 66% solve rate for drugs possession offences, and a charge rate of nearly 24%. There was a reduction in the use of Cannabis Warnings (34%) and a rise in the use of Community Resolutions as an outcome (160%).
In terms of assessing the potential impact of this new tiered approach, I asked Kent Police for information on the number of people who were dealt with more than once in the last three years for drugs possession. In total, 773 persons have been dealt with on more than 1 occasion, with a range between 7 occasions and 2. In addition to this, there were 5421 stop and searches recorded where drugs were discovered in the last three years. So there definitely is the scope to improve outcomes with the tiered approach, so long as sufficient capacity is funded and commissioned to provide the awareness courses and mandatory testing.”
However he argues tackling drugs is not just a police matter, but requires a “joined-upapproach”, with rehabilitation services being a “key part.”
“Our local hospitals see at first hand the consequences of drug misuse. Through data obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust reported 386 admissions with a primary or secondary diagnosis of mental and behavioural disorders due to the use of opioids, cannabinoids, cocaine and hallucinogens, including those with multiple drug types and other psychoactive substances. With regards to treatment, in 2021/2, over 1300 people were referred to the Kent County Council Drug and Alcohol Team, which is part funded by my Office. This was above the intended aim of referring 1000 people, demonstrating that there is a demand for these services.”
NOTE TO EDITORS:
See references below.
* ‘Swift, Certain, Tough: New Consequences for Drug Possession’ white paper - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)