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UK: Does a dramatic reduction in arrests mean Cleveland Police is softening its approach to cannabis?
Monday 26 Jun 2017
Cannabis arrests have plummeted across Teesside.
In 2014, 211 arrests were made for Teessiders possessing cannabis and 374 in total, more than one a day on average.
Since the start of 2017, there have been just 39 arrests - and only 21 for possession.
“I would like to think these figures are indeed showing a positive trend towards less pro-active policing on cannabis possession,” said John Holliday of the Teesside Cannabis Club.
His group want Cleveland Police to adopt a ‘softer’ policy in dealing with cannabis use, like neighbouring Durham Constabulary which stated it would no longer prosecute weed smokers.
But a spokeswoman for Cleveland Police said it still had a “robust” approach to tackling drugs - and targeted those who grow and supply cannabis.
A statement said: “The Force act upon all information received in order to close down cannabis farms and rid our streets of illegal controlled drugs.
“The Force has no intention of softening its approach dealing with those possessing or cultivating cannabis, and will continue to try to secure a custodial sentence for those who produce, or deal in, drugs.
“We urge the community to provide Cleveland Police with any information they may have in relation to drug dealing, which we will continue to act upon in order to keep the communities safe.”
Cleveland Police has always said it would still target people caught with the Class B drug, after it emerged officers didn’t make a single arrest at a cannabis festival in Redcar where punters reportedly poured drug laws despite a police presence.
But despite the claim, figures obtained via the Freedom of Information Act reveal the number of arrests made by the force has decreased dramatically.
Since 2011, 972 arrests have been made for cannabis possession, with 226 in 2013 alone.
However, since the start of the year just 21 people have been detained.
There has been year-on-year decreases in every major cannabis crime category since 2014.
The number of people accused of intending to supply cannabis has fallen from a high of 114 in 2014 to 11 this year.
And the figures also show:
• Cannabis cautions have dwindled from 54 to just three since 2014.
• The number of people being charged for cannabis on Teesside is on track to be at its lowest rate this decade.
• Not one person has been taken to court this year for conspiring to supply cannabis. Last year. 21 suspects appeared in the dock.
In total, just over two percent of all cannabis arrests made since 2011 on Teesside have been made this year.
“I’m sure these figures will free up valuable resources for police to use on more serious crimes,” added John.
“Perhaps in deed they are turning over a new leaf.”
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