Decriminalisation by stealth?

Ian Steward at SST reports:

Police have been accused of “decriminalisation by stealth” after a study showed possession arrests have halved in the last 18 years.

A Massey University research centre report shows despite the number of users remaining constant, arrests for cannabis possession since the late 1990s have fallen.

The Government says its policy is anti-cannabis and anti-decriminalisation, but the research shows there were 454 arrests for every 100,000 people in 1998, but only 227 by 2006.

It is worth noting that the research is up until 2006 only. But I doubt it has changed since.

Labour Justice spokesman Charles Chauvel said police had recognised the current approach to cannabis was failing, and had implemented changes in spite of the law. “It’s pretty much decriminalisation by stealth.”

He said a recent Law Commission report recommended cannabis be treated more as a health than a criminal issue, but Parliament “failed to act”.

At the time, Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said the Government would not adopt the commission’s recommendation of a three-warnings approach to cannabis.

Chauvel said he agreed with the police approach, but would “prefer it was under the supervision of Parliament”.

I have to say I agree with Chauvel on this issue. The Law Commission recommendation of a mandatory caution scheme was a good one. By not implementing it, it means the Police operate such a scheme without legislative guidance which is less than ideal.


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