The Home Office has warned police it expects officers “to enforce the law” on illegal drugs.
It comes after new figures reveal the number of offences for cannabis possession has dropped dramatically in the last ten years.
Between 2008 and 2018 recorded cannabis posession offences fell by 77 per cent in Greater Manchester, 66 per cent in the West Midlands and 59 per cent in London.
Despite increasing concerns that cannabis has devastating effects on mental health, some police chiefs are calling for a review of legislation on drugs, particularly cannabis.
According to The Times, more than half of police forces recorded 40 per cent fewer crimes despite cannabis being the most heavily used drug in the country.
Mike Barton, Chief Constable of Durham, said users were often left alone or referred to lifestyle assessment scheme ‘Checkpoint’.
Barton admitted: “We don’t even prosecute low-level dealers.”
‘Enforce the law’
The Home Office warned police against failing to take appropriate action.
A Home Office spokesman said: “How police choose to pursue investigations is an operational decision for chief constables but we are clear that we expect them to enforce the law.”
Dee Collins, West Yorkshire Chief Constable, denied decriminalising the drug but said her officers tended to use cautions for lower-level offences rather than the courts.
Currently possession of Class B drugs can lead to a five-year prison sentence, and the supply and production of cannabis can result in up to 14 years in prison.
Despite this, Neil Johnson, writing for The Times said that in Manchester – where there has been the greatest drop in offences – “there is little fear of arrest for lighting up a spliff”.
Earlier this month, the head of drugs policy at the National Police Chiefs’ Council, Jason Harwin, said offenders should receive “treatment” instead of “pursuing convictions”.