Policing

12.5% of Police Forces in England and Wales have moved away from criminalising drug use, trialling new approaches to reducing drug harms

New research shows at least eight Police Forces in England and Wales are presently implementing or developing drug diversion programmes, moving away from criminalisation and instead taking a more public health orientated approach to drugs. The research by the Conservative Drug Police Reform Group (CDPRG) will be unveiled at the Conservative Party Conference at the CDPRG’s panel discussion event ‘Is Pragmatic Policing Driving Drug Policy Reform?’

The CDPRG’s briefing explores changing policing attitudes to drug offences in the UK and shows that 12.5% of England and Wales’ 40 Police Forces with Police and Crime Commissioners are using or developing programmes which divert drug users into treatment and education services rather than prosecuting them. Durham, Avon and Somerset and Thames Valley Police Forces are currently running drug diversion programmes, whilst similar schemes are being developed in the West Midlands, Dyfed Powys, North Wales, South Wales, and Cleveland. Whilst data on the outcomes of these programmes is still limited at this early stage, Jason Kew of Thames Valley Police reported an 80% success rate on diversion courses at an oral evidence session on drug policing at the APPG on Drug Policy Reform in May, 2019.