UK: West Midlands Police to stop prosecuting hundreds of drug users and offer help instead

The UK's second-largest police force is to stop prosecuting people caught with drugs intended for personal use, provided that they agree to participate in a drug education or treatment scheme.


West Midlands Police to stop prosecuting hundreds of drug users and offer help instead (BirminghamLive, link):

"West Midlands Police is to stop prosecuting many drug users - and will arrange for them to receive help to turn their lives around instead.

The change of approach only applies to people are caught in possession of drugs for personal use, not those who are dealing.

It comes as new figures show 185 people last year died from drug poisoning in the area served by West Midlands Police, which covers Birmingham, Solihull, Sandwell, Dudley, Walsall, Wolverhampton and Coventry. In Birmingham alone there were 97 deaths.

The number in 2019 was down slightly compared to the year before, when 197 people died in the West Midlands. Over a longer period, however, the trend has been for drugs deaths to rise. Ten years ago, in 2010, there were 108 deaths from drug poisoning in the West Midlands force area.

(...)

The new police scheme, called DIVERT, means police will arrange for offenders to attend a drug treatment or education scheme instead of prosecuting. Users will no longer face the prospect of jail or a fine.

It will last for 12 months and will then be assessed to see how effective it has been. Police estimate 1,500 offenders will be involved.

The force says there is evidence that short term prison sentences often lead to the offender committing more crime, and can also lead people on to using more dangerous drugs. One in five heroin users, for example, first use the drug whilst in prison."

 

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