Sadiq Khan has revealed plans to decriminalise some Class B drug offences for young people.
READ MORE: It’s time for Britain to legalise marijuana
According to The Telegraph, Khan plans to introduce speeding course-style classes instead of arrest for under-25s, under a scheme that is expected to be launched later this year. Youth workers, rather than the police, will lead the rehabilitation process, with offenders also offered counselling if necessary.
Three London boroughs (Lewisham, Bexley and Greenwich) would trial the new scheme, with police officers told not to arrest young people caught with cannabis, ketamine or speed.
According to the report, the pilot could be announced as soon as later this month, and will be spearheaded by the mayor of Lewisham, Damien Egan.
Sadiq Khan is to begin decriminalising drugs in London and plans to end the prosecution of young people caught with cannabis, The Telegraph has learned https://t.co/4zExfMn2mf
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) January 3, 2022
The Mayor’s Office said Khan was “investigating various ways in which young people can be diverted away from low-level drug use by being better informed about its harm,” adding that he believed “drug use and its related crimes are preventable and not inevitable”.
“We know that we’ll never be able to simply arrest our way out of the problem, which is why we continue to work on schemes that provide young people with support and education, rather than simply putting them through the criminal justice system – with the aim of diverting them away from drug use and crime for good,” a spokesman said.
Apparently, the London mayor’s team has seen research claiming that police time would be better spent on serious and violent crime, rather than dealing with those caught with Class B substances.
Taskforce Officers were out recently doing drug swabs in Shoreditch as part of a wider operation to ensure the night time economy is a safe place for all pic.twitter.com/UtMbayPwpt
— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) January 2, 2022
Last April, Khan vowed to launch an independent commission to examine the potential health, economic and criminal justice benefits of legalising cannabis.
The news comes after Boris Johnson proposed a major crackdown on illicit drugs, as part of a 10-year strategy to combat drug-related crimes.
“2021 was the worst year for teenage killings in London, so decriminalising a major driver of youth violence probably isn’t the answer,” a government source told The Telegraph while a Conservative source added that Khan’s plan was “mad”.
Recently, The Met Police shared footage on social media of them swabbing people outside a venue in Shoreditch for drugs over the festive period.
The invasive operation is being done “to ensure the night time economy is a safe place for all,” according to the tweet.
NME previously hosted a panel that explored the idea of legalising the drug in the UK, with the likes of Professor Green, Damian Marley and Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb all taking part.