Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Drug Offences 2006/07 and 2007/08

The Home Office have published figures detailing the number of drug offences committed by young people.

As you will see from the graphs below there has been an increase in the number of both boys and girls being arrested in the last year. However, boys outnumber girls by a considerable margin.

Last year 13,621 boys under 17 were arrested, compared to 1,402 girls in the same age range.

In the same year there were 15,990 boys and 1,782 girls between the age of 18 and 20 who were arrested.

Boys drug offences

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Filed under: police

Film Competition: One Too Many

Via the Know Your Limits newsletter:

Students from across the south were invited to take part in a competition to produce a three minute film highlighting the dangers of excessive drinking. The top five films were posted on Youtube and over 800 public votes were cast in the competition, which was finally won by a student from Portsmouth University.

Here’s their winner:

See YouTube to see the other finalists.

Filed under: alcohol, police

ACPO Guidance on Cannabis Possession for Personal Use

untitled1In the light of the change in classification for cannabis, the police have changed their guidance on dealing with cases of possession for personal use.

Should you be interested you can download the document from here.

In describing aggravating circumstances where officers may want to escalate the way they deal with the offences the guidance outlines a number of examples.

  1. Smoking in a public place (in which they include in the street and in a youth club).
  2. Where there is a locally identified policing problem which “may include a disorder ‘hotspot’ in an area (public park, local shops, public house, near schools or where young people frequent) that generates frequent calls for service to deal with anti-social behaviour.”
  3. To protect young people.
  4. For persistent offenders.

The guidance asks officers when escalating the action they’re taking to have a number of questions in their mind:

  • What impact will the decision to issue a Cannabis Warning or PND have on the offender?
  • Does this person understand the seriousness of this offence?
  • Will this person benefit from this course of action?
  • Will this person take any heed of a Cannabis Warning or PND Notice?
  • Is there any evidence of previous convictions or offending behaviour that may show that they have little regard for the law?

Where the offender is 17 years old or younger the guidance is explicit:

Young People aged 17 years of age, or under, cannot be given a Cannabis Warning or a PND for possession of cannabis.

If there are local partnership agreements (Local Education Authority) in place, these will take precedence over these guidelines. The ACPO Guidance for Policing Drugs in Schools – ‘Joining Forces’ – offers further advice on this aspect of responding to cannabis possession.

This is fleshed out in the FAQ chapter:

Can I give a person who is 17 years old, or under, a Cannabis Warning or a PND?

No. Section 65 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 requires that such young people be considered for a reprimand, final warning or prosecution. However, that does not mean officers have to arrest at the time in order to seize the cannabis. The officer could decide to take the young person home to the protection of their parent or guardian. Taking this action would not prevent a later warning or reprimand being given or a prosecution being started, at a later date.

However, if that is not possible and the officer has no reasonable alternative, then the officer should have no difficulty justifying that an arrest is necessary in such cases.

Do I still have to arrest a person that is 17 years old or under?

There is no longer a recommendation that such young people must be arrested. The officer will have to justify that an arrest is necessary. However it is recognised that very often an arrest will be necessary to obtain the admission/evidence required for the final warning scheme. If this were necessary the officer would be justified in making an arrest.

What if a 17 year old and a 19 year old are smoking cannabis together?

The officer must look at the circumstances of each individual. It must be decided in each individual case that the action taken is both necessary and proportionate. Officers may have to deal with them differently i.e. Arrest one (17 years) and warn the other (19 years)

If the age difference was greater, say a 16 and 21 year old, it could also be decided that the 16 year old has been unduly influenced by the 21 year old, and arrest both.

Filed under: cannabis, police

‘What works’ to tackle alcohol-related disorder?

Via Alcohol Policy I’ve come across a paper looking at what appears to be effective in reducing alcohol related disorder based on work done in London.  It’s exclusively focused on enforcement activities so a bit outside our normal scope, but still of interest.

In terms of young people the paper says:

Disorder connected to under age drinking was the least frequently reported alcohol-related disorder issue with less than a third (30%) of the 23 boroughs who participated reporting it as a medium or high level problem. Four boroughs reported alcohol-related youth disorder as a significant problem: Haringey, Ealing, Hounslow and Hillingdon, but youth disorder was most often described as being related to but not always caused by alcohol, with groups of young people often gathering together without drinking. An emerging issue however, seems to be young people’s use of free travel to visit off-licenses known to sell alcohol to those underage and then returning to their local area to consume it. While this was reported anecdotally by several boroughs involved in the research, an initiative in Havering which marked alcohol containers and actually tracked off-licence sales confirmed this occurrence within the borough.

The paper gives figures from the Met Police about disorder, and as the graph shows there were marginal falls between 2005 and 2006 in drunk and disorderly behaviour, and drunk in a highway charges, but a rise in the numbers of occasions where penalty notices were used where under 18 year olds were caught drinking in a public place.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: alcohol, police

Using Email To Reach Pupils In Monkseaton

The Northumbria Police have been looking for a way of talking to young people about alcohol:

Police in Whitley Bay are sending e-mails to pupils at school to warn them of the dangers of underage drinking.

This is part of the North Tyneside ‘Taking a Stand’ campaign tackling teenage disorder and the problems of children who drink alcohol. Officers are working with Monkseaton High School in a pilot scheme, which will eventually extend across North Tyneside, to get these important messages across to students direct to their email inbox. Youngsters aged 14 and above are being targeted, using the child’s school e-mail account.

Filed under: alcohol, police,

Police in School

The Guardian report on a speech by the schools minister Lord Adonis:

The schools minister, Andrew Adonis, called on police forces yesterday to permanently draft officers into schools to cut violent crime. He said constables could frisk pupils for weapons, drink and drugs and generally keep children safe.

At least 450 secondary and primary schools in England already have a police officer permanently on site.

Adonis said he had asked forces to free up an officer for every school that wanted one. He told the teachers’ union Voice, at its annual conference in Daventry, Northamptonshire: “We have moved beyond the debate about whether it is appropriate for police to be in schools.” Police were no longer regarded as outsiders in schools.

You can see what the Minister had to say here but, looking at it, it would appear to me that the press have been briefed with more than the Minister had to say in his speech. I can’t see, for example where he asked for every school to have a police constable, although it could of course have been in response to questions from the floor.

What I did see was a commitment to legislate to implement the recommendations from Sir Alan Steer. Lord Adonis says:

Nothing is more imperative than that we keep weapons out of school. This is why we gave schools the power to search without consent pupils whom they suspect to be carrying weapons, and are proposing to extend this power.

Few schools may feel the need to use such powers, but it is important that those that do have the powers available.

However, this does not mean we expect teachers or other staff to be exposed to danger. No member of staff should feel obliged to make searches; all those conducting searches should be trained and should follow agreed procedures and where there is doubt the police should be called.

Filed under: Government, police,

Officer’s alcohol warning to MPs

BBC cover evidence from the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall to the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee in which he is critical about the availability of alcohol and of parents that seem to turn a blind eye to their children drinking:

But Mr Otter said government plans to bring in new laws to stop teenagers drinking in public was not the answer.

He had “some concerns about criminalising young people, when it’s probably a phase they’re going through and they’re going to come out with a criminal record”.

The Mail also have the story:

A chief constable today painted a desperate picture of Britain’s drinking culture in which alcohol is as readily available as fizzy drinks.

Devon and Cornwall chief Stephen Otter told MPs that some parents turn a blind eye to their children’s drinking – or even encourage it.

The number of rapes related to alcohol was on the rise, and alcohol was a factor in nearly half of violent crime last year.

 

Filed under: alcohol, police

Police bus in drugs misuse visits| Surrey

BBC:

Police in Surrey are raising awareness of issues surrounding drugs misuse and the help available to users with a bus decked out with posters and leaflets.

The Drugs Bus is touring the county and visiting schools, communities and town centres as part of National Tackling Drugs Week.

Filed under: police

Deeside College’s clean bill in proactive drugs swoop – Wales

The Flintshire Standard

MORE than 60 students were searched for drugs as part of a police operation at Deeside College.

The crackdown was part of a link-up between the college and North Wales Police to hammer home the message of zero-tolerance to students.

None of the 64 students were found in possession of drugs, and a search of part of the premises found no evidence of illegal substances.

ACPO guidance on searches says:

Police officers may undertake limited personal searches on school premises where they have reasonable suspicion, or detain those suspected for the purposes of doing so, under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

The photo that accompanies the story suggests that drugs dogs may have been used. ACPO say:

However, the ACPO recommends that drugs dogs should not be used for searches where there is no evidence for the presence of drugs on school premises. Demonstration and educational visits should not be used as a covert detection exercise.

Further reading:

Filed under: police, Wales, ,

Police reject tougher action on cannabis

The Guardian suggest that the police want to keep their flexibility on dealing with those caught in posession of cannabis:

An Acpo spokesman last night: “The key will be the discretion for officers to strike the right balance. We do not want to criminalise young people who are experimenting.” However, he stressed that cases involving “aggravating factors” were more likely to see an arrest and prosecution.

When the police announced their support for regrading cannabis as a class B drug this year, Simon Byrne, Merseyside’s assistant chief constable and the Acpo lead on policing cannabis, entered a little-noticed but crucial caveat to the police position. He said that since cannabis had been downgraded there had been growing concerns over increased potency, the rise of “homegrown” cannabis farms and a perception that its legal status meant it was seen as a low policing priority.

But he added that the police had supported the decision to downgrade the drug four years ago because of “the disproportionate time spent by frontline police officers in dealing with offenders in possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use. Should the decision be taken to reclassify cannabis to a class B, Acpo believes the service should retain this flexibility in dealing with instances of possession on the street, including the discretion to issue warnings in appropriate circumstances”.

Meanwhile Reuters picks up the Prime Minister’s desire to send a message to young people about the harm that cannabis can cause.

Filed under: cannabis, classification, police, ,

About this blog

This blog tries to pick up relevant media and research stories about drug education. It mainly focuses on information in England as this is the geographical remit for the Drug Education Forum. We welcome comments that are on topic.

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