Thames Valley Police chief says decriminalising cannabis could reduce violence

The Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police has stated that decriminalising cannabis could benefit the force and community.
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Speaking to the Home Affairs select committee yesterday (16 June), John Campbell suggested alternatives need to be considered.

Mr Campbell said in a hearing recorded by The Daily Mail: “It's a recurring problem, so you might argue there has to be an alternative consideration of trying something else.

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"But that comes with a great deal of, I guess, risk, or kind of like attached to a whole aspect of public perception, let alone the political aspects of that.”

The Daily Mail states that the chief argued that decriminalising cannabis would free up officers to focus on other aspects of policing.

In a meeting with MPs Mr Campbell was the lone voice supporting this move with other police chiefs stating it would lead to more cannabis psychosis cases.

David Sidwick the Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset came out strongly against the idea, he said: “There’s two issues here – one, would it make life any easier from the point of view of the crime aspect? No. Unequivocally.

“If you look at places across the world where they’ve done it, like California, the black market there is five times larger than what it was before.

“So it won’t change a thing, it will just make it worse. If we are looking at it from a public health perspective, look, this has been tried.

“Portugal had a 30-fold increase in its psychosis hospitalisations between 2010 and 2015. Scotland itself mentioned a 74% increase in the same thing – it was reported in the papers in January.

“Professors of psychiatry are calling for cannabis to be a class A drug again. The US… we know that every four minutes somebody is hospitalised for psychosis from cannabis.

"So, from that perspective, just looking at psychosis, I’d say ‘No.’ But I’ve had to examine this in depth.

“And you can see the same thing with autism – a 60 per cent uplift in those states. You can see an increase in those states which have legalised, for cancer, for birth defects.”

Serena Kennedy, Chief Constable of Merseyside Police mentioned how the government’s new 10-year campaign places a strong emphasis on treating addicts and working towards rehabilitation.

But she believes criminal determent is still necessary, she added: “We probably see some of our better results in terms of changing behaviours and changing offending moving forward, when we do look at some of the alternatives.

"But as it stands at the moment we still need that very hard option of the criminal justice system as well.”