Police allowing drug users to sidestep prison with half-day workshop

People caught carrying drugs including heroin, cocaine and ecstasy are being let off with a ‘slap on the wrist’ under a police pilot scheme.

In recent months, both Durham and Avon & Somerset police forces have been offering the scheme which allows those caught in possession of drugs to avoid prosecution by attending a half-day workshop.

Four out of five suspects have taken up the offer.


This Government has no intention of decriminalising drugs.
Home Office spokesperson

Called ‘Checkpoint’, the workshop involves a three-and-a-half hour education session, with individuals expected not to re-offend for four months.

If the course is completed, no further action is taken and the individual avoids the risk of a maximum prison sentence of seven years.

Critics of the scheme have warned that the workshop is a ‘get out of jail free card’ that is ‘asking to be abused’.

Another suggested that drug dealers will be ‘laughing all the way to the workshops’.

Free ride

Rory Geoghegan, Founding Director of the Centre for Public Safety, said: “Offering to drop prosecutions for indictable offences in return for attending a workshop is a process asking to be abused.

“Prolific or vulnerable offenders require court-mandated problem-solving activity or prison, not a workshop and a get out of jail free card.”

A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “This Government has no intention of decriminalising drugs.”

Drug deaths

Last month it was announced that drug-related deaths had reached a record high in England and Wales in 2015.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that there were 3,674 deaths from drug poisoning registered, the highest since comparable records began in 1993.