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Last Updated: Friday, 12 September, 2003, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
New cannabis approach urged
Tommy Sheridan: Favours 'cannabis cafes'
Senior police chiefs in Scotland are being urged to adopt new guidelines on the use of cannabis.

The Association of Chief Police Officers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is proposing a more relaxed approach towards the use of the drug.

Users would only be arrested in certain aggravating circumstances, such as smoking in public or around children.

Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan said the guidelines should be issued to Scottish police forces too.

'Lagging behind'

He said: "In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the police are to be issued with new guidelines that will effectively decriminalise cannabis for personal use.

"The police in Scotland must urgently draw up similar guidelines to end the needless prosecution and criminalisation of cannabis users north of the border.

"In England, Wales and Northern Ireland they are at least beginning to address the issue, here in Scotland we are sadly lagging behind.

"The Scottish Socialist Party will continue to fight for the full legalisation of cannabis within a licensing framework similar to alcohol and tobacco that enables the setting up of Dutch style cannabis cafés."

The Association for Chief Police Officers in Scotland said it has no plans at present to issue Scottish police forces with guidelines on cannabis, but did not rule out such a move in future.
Cannabis plant
Most cannabis users in England and Wales will not now face arrest

Andrew Brown, chief constable of Grampian Police and chair of the Acpos crime committee said he would be watching the results from the English and Welsh change of approach "with interest".

He said: "In all aspects of policing, there is an in-built facility of discretion which allows the officer on the street to make an assessment and decide on a course of action based on the specific circumstances of any given incident; the relationships between Scottish police forces and communities are richer because of this.

"Having said that, Acpos quite clearly has no policy not to arrest those found in possession of controlled drugs and therefore, those found in possession of cannabis will continue to be dealt with in the same manner as previously.

"It must also be recognised, that the Scottish police have no facility of formal cautioning or reprimanding as is afforded to our counterparts south of the border, therefore this alternative to arrest and prosecution is not available."

Mr Brown added: "The Scottish Police Service will continue to look forward, take account of the ever-changing cultural landscape and police, as always, with the consent of the public.

"Chief officers in Scotland will take great interest in the results of the English and Welsh forces' change in approach in this area."


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Danny Shaw
"Most people found in possession... will simply be given a warning"



SEE ALSO:
Cannabis policing relaxed
12 Sep 03  |  Politics
Strategy to cut drug abuse
04 Mar 03  |  Scotland


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