Police chief - decriminalisation of drugs not on agenda

Northumbria Police's chief constable disagrees with his Durham counterpart over the decriminalisation of drugs such as cannabis.

Saturday, 6th February 2016, 3:02 pm
Northumbria Police Chief Constable Steve Ashman

Durham’s Chief Constable Mike Barton hit the headlines when he suggested making some banned substances available through the NHS was the key to wrestling power away from criminal gangs.

But Northumbria Police Chief Constable Steve Ashman, speaking at a meeting in Berwick, said: “The law is the law and it’s not for me as chief constable to change the law, that’s for parliament.

“It’s for an elected government to determine whether or not substances such as cannabis become legal. Having said that, as a chief constable it is entirely at my discretion which laws I enforce and a police officer’s discretion is absolutely pivotal to the role of policing.

“There’s some real damage and huge issues caused by the cultivation of cannabis. I’m not saying we should plough resources into targeting an individual who may be growing one cannabis plant but similarly it’s not for me as a chief constable to step over that line and say which laws should be brought in or removed.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“I know what my colleague in Durham said and I disagree with him completely. He is entitled to his view and I’m entitled to mine.”