Budget cuts of up to 20 % cent for policing in England. Decriminalise cannabis says former Bristol councillor...

Decriminalise cannabis says former Bristol councillor
By EsmeAshcroft1 | Posted: November 22, 2015

A former councillor is campaigning to decriminalise cannabis to help offset police budget cuts.

Liberal Democrat, Christian Martin, who was elected councillor for the Clifton East ward between 2011 and 2013, thinks the measures will help officers to "prioritise" resources.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, is expected to announce budget cuts of up to 20per cent for policing in England at the annual Spending Review on Wednesday.

This would mean a significant dent in the money available to the Avon and Somerset Constabulary.

Mr Martin said: "Crime policy must be based on the evidence of what works. Faced with such drastic cuts the time for action on drugs reform is clearly now.

"I am calling on our city's Police and Crime Commissioner to consider no longer pursue small-scale cannabis growers nor arrest casual cannabis users to help ease the pressure on the local police budget."

Cannabis is a class B drug which makes it is illegal to possess, grow, distribute or sell in any form in the UK.

It is the most highly used drug in England and accounts for almost 70per cent of drug-related arrests.

A similar relaxation scheme was piloted in the London borough of Lambeth ten years ago.

Led by former police deputy assistant commissioner, Lord Paddick, the Metropolitan Police decriminalised cannabis for personal use.

Over the one year trial, crime fell and the local police team were able to save money.

"Locking up drug users is simply not the answer," Mr Martin added.

"We think outside the box and look at other parts of the country where this has worked.

"We have to learn the lessons of why our current approach is failing and given the events in France over the last week it is all the more paramount that the police are given all the support and finances they need to focus on issues that really matter to provide us with maximum security.

"I am calling on the Government to rethink these damaging cuts and to back our bobbies."

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