17th June 2021
By Roland Sebestyén

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner is reportedly “very pleased” with the DIVERT programme that is aimed to offer hundreds of people an opportunity to turn their backs on drugs.

According to a police report, 423 people have completed the DIVERT programme since October last year.

The report shows that nine out of ten people who used the DIVERT programme were directed to the service after being found in possession of cannabis.

The DIVERT programme allows those caught in possession of illicit drugs to avoid a criminal record if they enrol on the course.

However, those being found to be involved with the production, supply, and dealing of illicit drugs are not offered a place on the programme – instead, facing criminal prosecution.

The DIVERT programme offers those, who meet the criteria, an alternative that is designed “to help them turn their backs on drugs and educate them about the harms they can cause.”

The programme is specifically aimed at low level or first-time offenders who are not thought to be causing harm to others.

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, said: “I’m very pleased to see this programme is proving so effective.

“The truth is that if we can get people to turn their back on illicit drugs then we eliminate the market established by organised criminals.

“It’s important to reduce harmful drug use to improve people’s health, but if we can reduce illicit drug use then we will also reduce the crimes associated with this illegal industry.”

Arron Owen, Cranstoun’s National Lead for Criminal Justice, added: “We are pleased to see our DIVERT course being used so well in the West Midlands.

“Cranstoun believes in the use of diversionary services and the benefits of harm reduction and early intervention.

“Our partnership with the West Midlands PCC and West Midlands Police will ensure this service goes from strength to strength and we hope to work with more regions to take DIVERT across the country.”

Canex has reported on new data revealing that convictions for possession of cannabis for personal use are consistently falling across the UK.

According to the Home Office, police forces only charge one in eight “offenders” in some parts of the UK – representing only 13% of all cases.

Last year, of the 91,479 people caught with the class B drug in England and Wales only 21,672 were charged with the others “dealt with through out of court settlements,” meaning the cases did not result in a criminal record.

Just over 17,500 (19%) were let off with a warning, 6,148 (seven per cent) were given a caution and 7,410 (eight per cent) were given an on-the-spot fine.

These findings have led some to ask whether the police have quietly decriminalised cannabis in the UK?

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