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Cannabis Not A Police Priority

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Tackling cannabis users is not a priority, according to the county's top police officer.

Chief Supt Shaun Morley, Oxfordshire's commander for Thames Valley Police, made the comment as figures revealed a rise in the number of people getting away with a caution after being caught with cannabis.

Police have raided 18 cannabis 'factories' in Oxford this year, seizing an estimated £7m of assets from drug dealers.

But Government statistics showed Thames Valley Police handed out 2,431 formal warnings for possession of cannabis in 2006/07, up from 1,833 in 2005/06 and 2,232 in 2004/05.

Mr Morley said: "The enforcement of simple possession of cannabis is not a priority for Oxfordshire Basic Command Unit.

"This is based on extensive work that has been undertaken to identify how police resources are best deployed.

"However, the possession of cannabis is illegal and if officers during the course of their duty come across individuals in possession they will take appropriate action.

"In most cases, without aggravating factors, that will be some form of caution."

The three priority crimes for police in Oxfordshire are burglary, violent crime such as robbery, and auto crime, which includes vehicle and bike theft and breaking into cars.

Cannabis was downgraded from Class B to Class C in January 2004 and police were told not to prosecute most minor first-time offenders.

In May police raided a home in Druce Way, Blackbird Leys, and confiscated 244 mature plants.

Neighbours Mick and Eve Rowland, of Druce Way, said cannabis should remain a police priority.

Mr Rowland, 68, said: "I've been out walking my dog and seen teenagers sitting there passing the drug around.

"I know the police have their hands tied sometimes, but to downgrade its importance is crazy."

Mrs Rowland, 64, added: "The grandchildren are too frightened to walk round the alleyways because of drugs. It is a big problem on the estate.

"Once they start on cannabis it can lead to harder drugs and there are issues of mental health."

Mother-of-two Jasmin Tran, 38, of Druce Way, said: "Of course it should be a priority. If it's easy to purchase cannabis more youngsters are going to try it and it will affect all our lives."

Mother-of-five Donna Rider, 34, also of Druce Way, said: "I am in two minds. But I think it is more of a priority to stop harder drugs like h*editn."

In February police raided a cannabis factory in Cricket Road, Cowley, taking an estimated £30,000 worth of cannabis out of circulation.

Neighbour John Scott, 85, said: "There is no doubt about it, drugs are wrong. But I don't think it should be a priority because police have so much to deal with these days. I think they've got it right."

Dino Imbimbo, Oxfordshire secretary for the Police Federation said: "While it may not be a priority, it's the Federation's view that cannabis should never have been downgraded because it leads to harder drugs and anybody with a habit will need to fund it somehow, and that itself can lead to crime."

Cannabis is illegal but police will usually only prosecute if there are aggravating factors such as smoking in public or repeat offending.

News Hawk- User http://www.420Magazine.com
Source: Oxford Mail
Author: Matt Wilkinson
Contact: matt.wilkinson@nqo.com
Copyright: 2007 Newsquest Media Group
Website: Cannabis Not A Police Priority
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