Thousands of drug offenders escape jail

Fewer than one per cent of drug offenders are being sent to prison, Government figures have revealed.

Nearly 150,000 people were found in possession of drugs last year but less than one per cent were jailed.

The findings come after calls by the Liberal Democrats for a weakening of drugs laws in the UK.

No conviction

The report by the Ministry of Justice found that of the 148,000 people caught with drugs such as heroin and cocaine in 2013, only 1,141 were sent to jail.

A higher percentage of people caught with Class B drugs such as cannabis escaped sentencing, with 63,967 being let off with a cannabis warning.

David Green, chief executive of think-tank Civitas, criticised a recent call for decriminalisation by the former Lib Dem minister for drugs policy.


He said: “When people like the Liberal Democrats say that our regime is too severe and needs relaxing, they are wrong.

“We have been trying a drugs policy of ultra-relaxation. I find it very puzzling. We have already got as close to decriminalising possession of drugs as is possible without actually taking the final step.”

Green continued: “The point of the law is to protect the weak, the vulnerable and the easily addicted and decriminalisation would see them exploited by drug dealers.”


The cost of soft drugs laws has been revealed by survey statistics which showed a rise in drug users a decade after decriminalisation was adopted in Portugal.

The 2011 figures from the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs, found that the number of children who use drugs in Portugal doubled in the decade after the country’s law was liberalised.

In 1995, seven per cent of Portuguese teenagers admitted to having used cannabis. However, after gradual decriminalisation, the latest figure stands at 16 per cent.

Current law

A controversial Home Office report, commissioned by the Liberal Democrats, argued falsely that, “there has not been a lasting and significant increase in drug use in Portugal since 2001″.

A ComRes poll for The Christian Institute found that 56 per cent of voters in marginal constituencies think the right answer to Britain’s drug problem is to enforce the current drug law. Fewer than one in four (24 per cent) support a more liberal stance.

In the national poll 54 per cent agreed with the statement: “Given all the other social problems besetting the UK, the last thing the country needs is to legalise drugs like cannabis”, just 25 per cent disagreed.

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