By Roland Sebestyén
The Liberal Democrats have called for an end to the use of ‘Stop and Search’ for small amounts of drugs after more shocking details emerge about the way cannabis possession cases are handled in the UK.
The Independent has reported on a new analysis showing that black people are 12 times more likely to be prosecuted than white people if they are found in possession of cannabis.
According to the data provided by the Ministry of Justice, black people faced 148.4 prosecutions for cannabis possession per 100,000 people, compared to 12.2 per 100,000 for their white counterparts.
Home Office data shows that “a black person is eight times more likely to be stopped and searched for drugs than a white person, but no more likely to be found with drugs.”
Lord Brian Paddick, the former police chief who is the Liberal Democrats Home Affairs spokesperson in the House of Lords, called for policy reform to end the extremely unfair proceedings immediately.
He said: “The UK’s outdated drug laws are doing more harm than good. Cannabis is freely available and widely used, while criminal drug gangs are doing enormous damage to our communities and the lives of young people.
“Stopping, arresting and prosecuting thousands of people just for possession of cannabis for personal use is a waste of police and court time.
“Meanwhile, the vast majority of burglaries go unsolved, and even crimes that are prosecuted drag on for years before victims get justice because the courts are clogged up with minor drugs cases.
“To make matters worse, the disproportionate use of these laws undermines trust and confidence in the police among black communities. Young people are dying on our streets while the police are looking for a spliff.”
When the Co-Leader of the Green Party Sian Berry announced that she would decriminalise cannabis if she were elected as Mayor of London, the topic of decriminalisation became a hot topic in the capital city (and across the UK.)
Even London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who just won his second term in the local elections, has said that he would set up an independent committee to have a look at potential solutions that would stop these harmful proceedings in London.
As we’ve reported, Mr Khan is effectively the Police and Crime Commissioner in London technically has the powers to instruct Met officers not to arrest individuals for personal use and possession of cannabis.
However, it is highly unlikely that the government would change the failing, now 50-year old Misuse of Drugs Act.
In a statement, they said: “Policy on controlled drugs is a matter for UK government and there are no plans to devolve this responsibility.
“The prime minister has spoken about this on many occasion – illicit drugs destroy lives and he has absolutely no intention of legalising cannabis, which is a harmful substance.”