Sadiq Khan to begin decriminalising drugs in London

The Government has recently unveiled its drugs strategy, which has a strong emphasis on targeting recreational users, including by removing the passports of those caught with Class A substances such as cocaine.

The Telegraph understands that Mr Khan’s pilot will be announced this month, and will be spearheaded by Damien Egan, the mayor of Lewisham.

The London mayor’s team has seen research suggesting that police time could be better spent on serious and violent crime, rather than dealing with those caught with cannabis possession.

Between 2016 and 2020, nine in 10 drug proceedings brought against young people in Lewisham were for cannabis possession, while young black men in the borough were 2.4 times more likely to be stopped and searched for drugs in the same period.

During his last election campaign, Mr Khan pledged to set up a London Drugs Commission to review whether cannabis possession should be decriminalised.

However, under the plans presented to his police and crime team, The Telegraph understands that the amnesty may extend to all Class B drugs, which would also effectively decriminalise ketamine and amphetamines, known as “speed”.

Young people ‘diverted’ to drugs courses

Although carrying the drugs would technically remain illegal, the Metropolitan Police is understood to have agreed that officers will not pursue drug charges against people caught in the three boroughs in south London participating in the scheme.

Instead, under a process known as “diversion”, young people will instead be offered a course to educate them on the dangers of drug use, similar to that offered to motorists who have been caught speeding.

Youth workers, rather than the police, will lead the rehabilitation process, with under-25s also offered counselling if necessary.

Similar schemes have previously been trialled by police and crime commissioners in Somerset, Durham, and in the West Midlands, but the latest pilot will be the first of its kind in the capital.

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