Border agents told not to arrest cannabis users

People bringing cannabis and some other illegal drugs into the UK for “personal use” should not usually be arrested, according to guidance given to border agents.

Only in “extenuating circumstances” should arrests be made for personal use quantities of Class B drugs, according to a report from the independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration.

One anti-drugs group described the situation as “extraordinary”, asking: “What message does it send when people aren’t stopped with illegal drugs?”


In the report, Chief Inspector John Vine criticised the arrest of a passenger who was carrying a small amount of cannabis.

He said: “The passenger was arrested despite previously issued guidance stating that arrests for ‘personal use’ quantities of Class B drugs were not to be undertaken”.

He added that arrests were allowed under “extenuating circumstances”, but that this was not the case for the passenger.


The Chief Inspector’s report described the case of the passenger, initially held under immigration powers, but then “found to have a small quantity (for personal use) of what was believed to be cannabis in their baggage”.

It said the passenger “was subsequently arrested and taken to the customs channels for further search and questioning, without being taken to a Custody Officer”.

Elsewhere in the report on Stansted Airport, it was noted that the airport missed its target for Class A drugs seizures for the year 2012-13.


Mary Brett, from Cannabis Skunk Sense, commented on the cannabis case saying: “This is extraordinary. Why do we bother to have laws on cannabis if they’re not going to be enforced?

“What message does it send when people aren’t stopped with illegal drugs?

“We seem to have given up entirely on cannabis”.